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Kurt Elling: Straight Ahead

In video interviews from the Jazz Cruise 2012, the vocalist talks about his early musical development, his many upcoming projects and his experiences on the cruise

Kurt Elling at 2010 Tanglewood Jazz Festival
Kurt Elling in performance at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pa.

In his column “The Gig” in the December 2009 issue of JazzTimes, Nate Chinen called vocalist Kurt Elling “the most influential jazz vocalist of our time.” Since his arrival onto the national jazz scene in 1995, Elling has recorded nine albums, all of which have been nominated for Grammy awards. His latest album The Gate was produced by pop maven Don Was. Earlier this year, Elling made his first appearance on The Jazz Cruise, where he performed multiple sets with his working group of Laurence Hobgood, John McLean, Clark Sommers and Kobie Watkins, rarely even repeating a song. A hit among the cruise regulars, he also sat in with Ann Hampton-Callaway and other artists and sang with the All-Star big band.

During the cruise, JazzTimes set up a make-shift video production studio in “The Boardroom,” a small room on the second deck aft of the M/S Westerdam. Throughout the week, a succession of artists-including John Pizzarelli, Freddy Cole, Ann Hampton-Callaway, Don Braden, Ken Peplowski, Wycliffe Gordon, Bill Charlap & Renee Rosnes and many others-came in to talk about the cruise, jazz education and their own projects. We are posting these interviews at over the next few months. You can also see more of these video interviews at the JazzTimes YouTube channel.

In this set of interview segments for In Person with JazzTimes, Elling spoke about his early development as a jazz vocalist, his upcoming projects for the rest of the year, and his impressions of the Jazz Cruise.

Kurt Elling on his early musical development:

Kurt Elling on his impressions of the Jazz Cruise:

Kurt Elling on his many future projects:

Interviews done by Irene Lee. Footage shot on a Canon EOS 4D Mark II.

Originally Published