“Since the mid-1990s, no singer in jazz has been as daring, dynamic or interesting as Kurt Elling. With his soaring vocal flights, his edgy lyrics and sense of being on a musical mission, he has come to embody the creative spirit in jazz.” (The Washington Post).
Considered the preeminent young male jazz singer today, Elling boasts a rich baritone voice that spans four octaves and displays an astonishing technical facility and emotional depth. With an impressive command of rhythm, texture, phrasing, and dynamics, his repertoire ranges from original compositions to modern interpretations of standards both of which serve as a springboard for free form improvisation, scatting, spoken word, and poetry, or vocalese. The natural heir to pioneers like Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure, and Jon Hendricks, he is the contemporary voice of vocalese.
Elling has recorded and/or performed with Terrence Blanchard, Dave Brubeck, Al Jarreau, and John Pizzarelli among others, and has released ten of his own recordings, including his 2010 Grammy winning, Dedicated to You. His latest, 2011’s,The Gate, a collection of originals and songs by King Crimson, Herbie Hancock, The Beatles and Stevie Wonder has also received rave reviews.
Jon Hendricks is not only one of the world’s favorite jazz vocalists, but is widely considered to be the “Father of Vocalese” ––the art of setting lyrics to recorded jazz instrumental standards, then arranging voices to sing the parts of the instruments. Hendricks is the only person many of the jazz greats have allowed to lyricize their music, as he writes the hippest, wittiest, and most touching words, at the same time extracting the emotions from the tune that were intended by the composer.
For his work as a lyricist, jazz critic and historian Leonard Feather called him the “Poet Laureate of Jazz” while Time magazine dubbed him the “James Joyce of Jive.” Hendricks has recorded several critically-acclaimed albums including his collaboration with The Manhattan Transfer for their seminal 1985 album, Vocalese, which won seven Grammy Awards.
In 2003, Hendricks toured with the “Four Brothers,” a quartet consisting of himself, Kurt Elling, Mark Murphy, and Kevin Mahogany and among other projects, he has penned lyrics and created vocalese arrangements for some of the world’s most beautiful classical pieces including Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” and Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto! In 2000 he returned to his hometown of Toledo, Ohio to teach at the University of Toledo, where he was appointed Distinguished Professor of Jazz Studies and received an honorary Doctorate of the Performing Arts. He also served on the Kennedy Center Honors committee under Presidents Carter, Reagan, and Clinton.
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