Anyone one who knows me a little knows I love music and anyone who knows me a lot knows that I breathe Jazz. About 3 years ago working in Barnes & Noble’s music department, I was listening to yet another of their mediocre “smooth jazz” compilations – which were required to play – when a voice came over the speakers that literally stopped me in my tracks. Hold up, I thought, all right Barnes & Noble you did well… with 1 track on a CD, at least. Shooing and ignoring customers, I stood still and let the groove wash over me, my eyes closed and my head bobbing.
After regaining motion, I ran to check the compilation to see whose voice it was that to me sounded like a blend of Stevie Wonder and Bobby Caldwell. That voice was, Kurt Elling. This brother is so smooth and mellow, I thought. Later that night after doing further research, you can imagine my surprise to find out this brother was a white man. He’s soulful and mellow none the less. And that’s not all, he’s also one of the most gifted lyricists and scat-singers I’ve ever heard and a true “hip cat” in the traditional sense (jazz heads stand up).
Elling hales from the Midwest and is one of the few relatively well-known current male jazz singers on the scene. Currently based out of Chicago, where he reportedly packs local night spots. Why this man isn’t more popular with the masses is a complete mystery to me. Another great artist lost in the shuffle…
Tidbits: January 31, 2010, Elling won his first Grammy Award in the category of Best Jazz Vocal Album for the album Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman
Kurt Elling is a writer and performer of vocalese, the art of writing and performing words over the recorded improvised solos of jazz artists.
Influences: Mark Murphy, Jon Hendricks, Frank Sinatra
Tracks You Should Hear: Winelight
Performing the classic, Take 5 with Living Legend, Al Jarreau
April in Paris
By Terrence Lathan aka. IBelieveInMuzik