Live In Chicago

Blue Note Records | 2000

The next Grammy-nominated release was recorded live at Chicago’s storied Green Mill Lounge, Elling’s home and long-time artistic base. Comprised largely of previously unrecorded material, the album featured Elling singing with jazz legend Jon Hendricks and blowing by Chicago tenor greats Von Freeman, Ed Petersen and Eddie Johnson. Elling pushed the boundaries of vocalese on “Night Dreamer,” Wayne Shorter’s signature composition. “This CD,” wrote the Jazz Educators Journal, “reflects Elling’s utterly creative genius.”

Track Listing

  • Downtown
  • My Foolish Heart
  • Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
  • Oh My God
  • Music by Wayne Shorter
    Solos by Wayne Shorter and Lee Morgan
    Vocalese lyric by Kurt Elling based on Wayne Shorter’s and Lee Morgan’s improvised melodies on “Night Dreamer” from the 1964 recording Night Dreamer

    Lonely the roses of Avondaire / sing as though somebody still may care.
    They live only for the dream of living / so come follow where / they will take you there.

    I once was apprenticed / to a man who was living
    in the eye if the hurricane / to know despair,

    He knew all the dreams by heart / just like sailing in a boat of
    crystal silence / seeing visions / of the world / of life within a life.

    In a turning / like a burning / came turning /
    out of everything stirring / and what had begun before

    but all wrapped up / in one great godly becoming –

    Tumbling / and fumbling / and stumbling
    into bumbling / and rumbling along –

    whirling it / and swirling it / and twirling it / and hurling it /
    and overturning it / and burning it again.

    I shared a whirling dervish out on the side of a hill called metaphore vivace
    swinging en route to a nascent solar / with the scissored visored blizzard wizard /
    gizzarding planets and secrets within / like an avatar.

    While meanwhile / in turnstyling / and spinning over him
    spells bespeaking kingdoms in the dark

    calling me to yield / knighting me in a field / covered with armies
    and with princes. All were signing / cannons shining / pennants flying.

    And when he spoke to me he sang / and his words really rang –
    this child of the knowledge of the beauty of the night –

    he sang to me of masters passing on / of father after father after father
    climbing up into the lotus bloom / upon the tortoise’s back
    and of grandfathers / who danced through their living a longer time ago.
    He showed me a palace in time / in which all the talismans
    from all the zeuses / swing upon a pendulum of secrets
    in a circle that remembers / and when asked a question will surrender

    every secret key to every hero’s message / given to every heart in time
    but only known to but a few /or so it seems.

    When I asked of them / what shall I do / to see the god?
    They only said / the goldenrod / which grows inside of
    every secret dream you dream / while waiting for the god –
    it-s a symbol from the man in the fire.
    ling you the thing you desire
    is a garment that covers the riddle of everything secretly wished for
    and of the world of which you are an inheritor.

    Suddenly the chamber was flooded with light /
    hurling me skyward like a meteorite/

    When I fell to earth / I saw everything in a blur.
    I saw that time was accelerating in a curve

    and the palace in which I had stood / it was flowing, like lava, on acres of woodland
    like a pompei-an mountain volcano / making archipelago
    and destroying the planet / at fortissimo

    bulldozing everything down / to make room for what
    was a byzantine / a labarynthine / knotty mess of
    manifolding passageways / a tangle of confusion /
    where the walls made / an asylum of baroque.

    Like a joke / words were spoken
    to provoke me / and to toss me
    nude and empty / to the sea.

    But I would have none of it.
    I simply turned my back and walked out/ of the dreamscape/
    into landscape / like a bedroom / where I heard that

    Lonely the roses of solitaire / sing as though somebody still may care.
    They live only for the dream of living / so come follow where they will take you there.

  • (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons
  • Intro: (Esperanto)
  • Music by Vince Mendoza, originally titled “Esperança”
    Lyric by Kurt Elling inspired by and integrating Book of Questions by Pablo Neruda
    There’s a secret that never dies –
    like a song of hidden meanings that we never apprehend.

    There are questions just as old as time
    and the answers that come never quite make amends.

    Even so, when you look at time
    you can get a subtle feeling of the way it ought to be.

    Take a good look at your own real life
    and you’ll see if you want what you’ve gotten to be.

    It’s a hope, a sign, a measure of quiet rapture –
    of love and what may come after.
    It’s let-ting go, and letting no answer be an answer.

    How did smoke learn how to fly? – Where do birds go off to die?

    Why does coal sleep in darkness? – Do dreams live in apart-ness?

    Is a number forever? – where’s the soul of the water?

    How old is old November? – No one here can remember.

    If I die, where does time go? – Do the bees feel ver-ti-go?

    To get love – is there potion? – Or is love on-ly mo-tion

    Holy lift, holy reading – holy gift, holy needing.

    Holy sound, holy waiting – holy spark a-ni-ma-ting

    holy food, holy breathing – holy light in-ter-wea-ving.

    Holy night, holy hand-write – holy flight, holy in-sight:

    holy sun, holy brother – holy moon, holy mother.

    Holy dream, holy vision – holy scheme, holy mission:

    holy one to a-no-ther – holy me, holy other.

    Holy lives, holy blending – holy start, holy ending.

  • Don't Get Scared
  • Intro: (Goin' To Chicago)
  • Goin' To Chicago
  • Intro: (The Rent Party)
  • The Rent Party
  • Blues Chaser


Kurt Elling: Voice
Laurence Hobgood: Piano
Rob Amster: Acoustic Bass
Michael Raynor: Drums & Percussion

Featured Guest Artists
Jon Hendricks: Voice
Von Freeman: Tenor Saxophone
Eddie Johnson: Tenor Saxophone
Ed Petersen: Tenor Saxophone
Kahil El’Zabar: Hand Drums