|Listen to selections from Elling’s 2000 release, Live in Chicago:|
Downtown: MP3 or Windows Media Player
My Foolish Heart: MP3 or Windows Media Player
Night Dream: MP3 or Windows Media Player
Oh My God: MP3 or Windows Media Player
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: MP3 or Windows Media Player
Kurt Elling has risen to international prominence as a recording and performing Jazz artist over the last five years. Each of his three recordings for the prestigious Blue Note label was nominated for a Grammy Award. His most recent release, entitled “This Time It’s Love,” quickly rose to #1 on Jazz radio. Beginning in 1995, with the self-produced “Close Your Eyes,” Mr. Elling has been touring extensively in the U.S. and has performed to critical acclaim in Canada, Israel, Japan, Australia and throughout most of Europe. Highlights have included a slot opening for Herbie Hancock in France, JVC Jazz Festival performances in Carnegie Hall and New York’s Bryant Park, and rarely offered consecutive engagements at the Montreaux Festval in Switzerland.
With his second recording, “The Messenger,” Mr. Elling furthered his reputation (along with that of collaborator Laurence Hobgood) as a producer, arranger, and composer. In addition to a second Grammy nomination, “The Messenger” also won the Prix Billie Holiday from the Academic du Jazz in Paris and Jazz Record of the Year at the Chicago Music Awards.
Mr. Elling has been featured in profiles for “CBS Sunday Morning,” “Showbiz Today” on CNN, and in hundreds of newspaper and magazine reviews and articles. The New York Times called him “hugely talented” (Jun/96) and called his shows at Birdland “good, battering entertainment.” (Jan/96) Playboy Magazine has named Elling “the male Jazz vocalist of the Nineties.” (Oct/98) Famously hard to please, band leader Artie Show called Elling “possibly the most innovative and orginal Jazz singer to come along in years.” Elling has won the annual JazzTimes Readers Poll (#1 Male Jazz Vocalist), and the Downbeat Critics Poll (Talent Deserving Wider Recognition) for the third year in a row.
Elling has also gone beyond Jazz performance to write and direct more broadly based literary and artistic events, most notably in works commissioned by Chicago’s famous Steppenwolf Theater. In 1998 he undertook a critical exploration of the life and work of Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. In reviewing the show, The Chicago Tribune called it “audacious” and “provocative…Elling’s [treatment] turned a fairly predictable survey of Beat Literaturn into a more balanced view of a key chapter in American history. Here was an evening of poetry and music informed by a sense of morality, as well as an aversion to politically correct points of view.” (Jan/98) Further plans for this production include the presentation of an expanded version at the Kennedy Center in the fall of 1999.
Mr. Elling was commissioned one year later to create an event fusing Jazz and modern dance, this time featuring his wife, professional dancer, Jennifer Elling. Again Elling was praised as an innovator. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote that, “Having risen as a Jazz singer on the wings of modern poetry, including his own, [Elling] is in full thrall of art’s interactive possibilities.” (Feb/99) The Chicago Tribune agreed, proclaiming, “Because spoken word, subtle lighting design, fluid stage direction and a heady spirit of improvisation all play key roles, the evening touches on more aesthetic forms than one generally encounters in a week’s worth of concertgoing…So many of those vignettes prove eloquent – with the crisp imagery of Elling’s lyrics enhanced by the abstract, poetic motion of the dancers – that it’s difficult to single out highlights.” (Feb/99)
www.kurtelling.com / www.jaesinnett.com