Kurt Elling’s The Big Blind Premieres at Jazz at Lincoln Center

Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York, NY
March 1-2, 2019, 8:00 pm

The radio-style noir drama features an all-star cast including Broadway legend Ben Vereen,
NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater, and a 23-piece orchestra conducted by Guy Barker

Jazz at Lincoln Center presents the world premiere of Kurt Elling’s The Big Blind, March 1-2 at 8:00 pm in Rose Theater.

The Grammy-winning vocalist delves into the world of musical theater with this original noir radio drama, co-written with Grammy-nominated songwriter Phil Galdston and inspired by true historical events. Set in the seedy underbelly of the 1950s nightclub scene, Elling stars as Jack Lewis, an up-and-coming jazz singer who faces the loss of his voice, both literally and figuratively, when his personal and professional choices upend his life. Exclusively for this premiere performance, Elling has assembled an all-star cast, including Broadway legend Ben Vereen who doubles as the story's narrator and Lewis' sax-playing mentor; NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater who brings her sultry stylings to the part of the requisite femme fatale; Broadway star and jazz chanteuse Allison Semmes (Motown the Musical, The Book of Mormon) as the young ingénue; and Foley Artist Jeff Ward.

A unique blend of radio drama, complete with on-stage sound effects and concert performance, The Big Blind takes audiences back to the heyday of what Elling calls “the theater of the imagination.” The show is directed by Terry Kinney, a founding member of Chicago's iconic Steppenwolf Theatre Company and a star of the renowned HBO prison drama Oz. The score features eight new songs co-written by Elling and Galdston, who has written hits for everyone from Beyoncé to Celine Dion, Chicago to Vanessa Williams, Aaron Neville to Esperanza Spalding. In addition, Elling and Galdston have penned new lyrics to carefully chosen classics by jazz giants Duke Ellington, Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, and Charles Mingus. British trumpeter/composer Guy Barker will conduct the 23-piece orchestra assembled by drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr.

The Big Blind has been a passion project of mine for more than ten years. This story is my way of embracing the history of the city I love and the club that gave me a platform,” says Elling. “At this point in my career, I want to reach for as much as I can, and this show has given me a way to stretch my imagination. I'm honored to work with an incredible cast, including Dee Dee Bridgewater and Ben Vereen. We are led by an equally talented creative team: our director Terry Kinney, my co-writer Phil Galdston, and arranger/conductor Guy Barker. I can't wait to see this come to life on the Rose Theater stage.”

A free pre-concert discussion will take place nightly at 7:00 pm in the Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman Studio in The Irene Diamond Education Center.

The performance on Friday, March 1 at 8:00 pm will be webcast live at jazz.org/live and on Facebook.

Ticket information may be found here.