Vocalist Kurt Elling rocketed to jazz stardom with the 1995 release of his debut album, Close Your Eyes, on Blue Note Records. Twenty-five years later, Elling boasts a remarkable and accomplished career in jazz, and he celebrates it in October and November with a 25th Anniversary Virtual Concert Tour.
Ironically (though not unpredictably, given the worldwide pandemic), Elling’s “tour” will take place entirely in one venue: Chicago’s legendary Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, where the singer first established himself with a weekly residency in the 1990s. From that venerable stage, he will give five livestreamed performances, each with a specific theme. Elling will be joined by pianist/organist Stu Mindeman, bassist Clark Sommers, and drummer Dana Hall, with occasional guest appearances by guitarist John McLean.
Performances will take place on Fridays at 3 and 8 p.m. Central, from October 9 through 30, with another on November 13, via the Mandolin.com streaming service. Tickets are $15 for each performance, or $60 for the full series. Themes for the concerts are as follows:
October 9: “25th Anniversary Concert.” A retrospective of Elling’s career, emphasizing the material on Close Your Eyes, with new twists.
October 16: “Celebrating the Heroes” – A tribute to Elling’s heroes, musical and otherwise, from Jon Hendricks to Joe Zawinul to Rumi.
October 23: “K-Pop” – Covers of Elling’s favorite songs from throughout pop music history, featuring John McLean on guitar.
October 30: “Here’s Romance” – Love songs, from the Great American Songbook and beyond.
November 13: “The Big Blind” – A reprisal of Elling’s 2019 radio-style musical drama The Big Blind. Though the production included an all-star cast when it premiered at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Elling performs this rendition solo.
Purchase tickets at Mandolin.com.