Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Kurt Elling: What Makes a Jazz Singer

Kurt Elling details his ascent, responds to his detractors, and sets out to define the slippery parameters of vocal jazz.

Kurt Elling probably wouldn’t be the first to say it, but he’s been on some fiendishly impressive sort of roll. “I can feel, especially in the past year and a half or so, that I’m finding a new spot,” he allows, no trace of bravado in his tone, one recent winter evening on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “And it’s making the music better. I’m finding a new spot as a human being, and I’m happy about that.”

We’re at Bistro Citron, a few blocks from the apartment where Elling now lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their 5-year-old daughter, Luiza. He has in fact just come from one of Luiza’s school performances down the street. A Chicago native, he moved with his family to New York City several years ago, to test out a longtime “what if?” and flesh out, as he puts it, “a map inside my head.” It’s probably an accident of timing, but his tenure in the Big Apple has overlapped with an extremely blessed stretch of his career.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published