Desert Island Jazz
Kurt Elling (2002)

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Kurt Elling is the preeminent young male jazz singer today. NIGHTMOVES,
Elling’s first recording for Concord/Universal will propel his career to new heights.
This follows a ten-year stretch that saw Elling earn seven GRAMMY nominations
for six Blue Note albums, six consecutive years at the top of the Down Beat
Critics and Jazz Times Readers' polls, three Jazz Journalists' Association
Awards for Best Male Vocalist and the Prix Billie Holiday from the Academie du
Jazz in Paris. His quartet has toured the world, performing to critical acclaim in
Europe, the Middle East, South America, Asia and Australia, and at jazz festivals
and concert halls across the North America.

In addition to working with his own quartet, Kurt Elling has spent recording and/or
performing time with an array of artists that includes Terrence Blanchard, Dave
Brubeck, The Clayton/Hamilton Orchestra, Benny Golson, Jon Hendricks, Fred
Hersch, Charlie Hunter, Al Jarreau, David Liebman, Joe Lovano, Christian
McBride, Marian McPartland, The Bob Mintzer Big Band, Mark Murphy, John
Pizzarelli, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and The Yellowjackets. He has written
multidisciplinary works of art for The Steppenwolf Theater and for the City Of
Chicago. Moreover, Kurt Elling is a former National Trustee and National Vice
Chair of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (The GRAMMYS)
and was artist-in-residence for the Monterey Jazz Festival’s 2006 season.

Kurt Elling's rich baritone voice spans four octaves and displays an astonishing
technical facility and emotional depth. Elling has an awesome command of
rhythm, texture, phrasing, and dynamics, often sounding more like a virtuoso jazz
musician than a mere singer. His repertoire ranges from his own compositions to
modern interpretations of standards, both of which can be the springboard for
free form improvisation, scatting, spoken word and poetry. As composer and
lyricist, Elling has written scores of his own compositions and set lyrics to the
songs and improvised solos of many jazz masters. In addition to the
compositional work he has done with collaborator-in-chief, Laurence Hobgood,
Elling has collaborated in the creation of new pieces with Jon Clayton, Fred
Hersch, Bob Mintzer, Charlie Hunter and Orbert Davis, among others.

One of Kurt Elling's major contributions is as a writer and performer of vocalese,
the art of putting words to improvised solos of jazz artists. The natural heir to
jazz pioneers Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure, and Jon Hendricks, Elling is the
contemporary voice in vocalese, setting the solos of Wayne Shorter, Keith
Jarrett, Dexter Gordon, Pat Metheny, and others to his own deeply spiritual and
compelling lyrics, an approach that reminds us of the beauty of the original music
and opens us up to a fresh vision. Elling infuses his lyrics with passion, humor,
and a startling intellectual depth, often incorporating images and references from
writers such as Rilke, Proust, Kerouac, Rumi, Neruda and Kenneth Rexroth into
his work.

Kurt Elling has been featured in profiles for CBS Sunday Morning, for CNN, and
in hundreds of newspaper and magazine reviews and articles. The New York
Times called his shows at Birdland “good, battering entertainment.”(1/99) Said
the Chicago Tribune, “Kurt Elling is going to change many listeners’ minds on the
meaning and purpose of Jazz singing.”(1/96) Playboy Magazine named Elling
“the male Jazz vocalist of the Nineties.” (10/98) More recently, The Guardian
(UK) declared, “Elling is an omnicompetent artist of almost ruthless efficiency ...
(He) is truly a musical phenomenon.” (2/02) And Jazz Review (UK) raised the
possibility that “Elling may be the greatest male Jazz singer of all time.” (1/02)

In responding to such critical adulation, Kurt Elling says, “I know the places
where I need to work to get better. What’s really working for me is the fact that I
have tried to learn from the great masters of jazz singing. If I can digest what
people like Mark Murphy, Jon Hendricks, Betty Carter, Joe Williams and Eddie
Jefferson have done and can contribute something valuable to the tradition then
that will be reward enough.”
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 The Count Basie Band featuring Joe Williams Breakfast Dance and Barbecue No Moon at All (Roulette)
# 2 Lambert, Hendricks and Ross The Swingers Swinging 'til the Girls Come Home (Pacific Jazz)
# 3 Frank Sinatra The Rat Pack: Live at the Sands I Only Have Eyes for You (Capitol)
# 4 Miles Davis The Complete Concert: 1964 (My Funny Valentine and "Four" & More) My Funny Valentine (Columbia)
# 5 Dexter Gordon Manhattan Symphonie (LP) Body and Soul (Columbia)
# 6 Mark Murphy I'll Close My Eyes If (Muse)
# 7 Wayne Shorter Speak No Evil Speak No Evil (Blue Note)
Book An encyclopedia
Luxury Item "Cosmic Head", a sculpture by Donald De Lue
Alternate Picks/Not Broadcast
Alt 1 Frank Sinatra accompanied by the Count Basie Orchestra Sinatra at the Sands N/A (Reprise)
Alt 2 Lambert, Hendricks and Ross The Hottest New Group in Jazz N/A (Columbia)
Alt 3 Mark Murphy September Ballads N/A (Milestone)
Alt 4 Joe Williams A Swingin' Night at Birdland N/A (Blue Note)
Castaways by date
Aaron Germain
06 Jan