NPR logo Kurt Elling at the Kennedy Center


Kurt Elling at the Kennedy Center

Kurt Elling in Concert on JazzSet

Audio is no longer available

Kurt Elling. hide caption

toggle caption

Kurt Elling in Concert on JazzSet

Audio is no longer available

Set List

  • "My Foolish Heart" (Rodgers & Hart) with poetry from the ancient Rabi'a of Basra.
  • "I Like the Sunrise" (Ellington) with added lyrics from the Persian mystic, Jalal al-Din Rumi, set to a solo by Chicago saxophonist Von Freeman.
  • "Esperanto" (music by Vince Mendoza, lyric by Kurt Elling)
  • "Home Cookin'" (music by Horace Silver, lyric by Jon Hendricks)
  • "Body and Soul" (music by Johnny Green, lyric by Kurt Elling to the Dexter Gordon tenor saxophone solo from Live at the Village Vanguard)

The stunning singer and lyricist Kurt Elling has been voted Best Male Vocalist in the Down Beat Critics' Poll and the Jazz Times Readers' Polls every year since 2000. All six of Elling's Blue Note albums including the last, Man in the Air, were nominated for Grammy Awards. There is already a buzz around Nightmoves, a collection of introspective pieces on his new label Concord Records. We have a preview from Kurt's set at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Elling's expressive, flexible baritone with a four-octave range can fly over horn lines, caress a love song, or recite poetry. You'll hear him do it all.

Kurt Elling sang in choirs and vocal groups from an early age. At college in Minnesota, he began listening to Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, and other jazz giants. While doing graduate studies in philosophy and ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School, Kurt began sitting in at jazz clubs.

He met pianist Laurence Hobgood, and they established themselves at The Green Mill in Chicago, still their home base. Kurt credits Laurence as a major factor in their success. Robert Amster is the bassist, and Willie Jones III the drummer.


Music mix by JazzSet Technical Director Duke Markos, with assistant Yujin Cha. On-location help from Mark Barrie and Casey Wolfram of Big Mo Recording.

Thanks to Sean Costello, Program Manager Kevin Struthers, and Artistic Director Dr. Billy Taylor at the Kennedy Center.

Writer is Jill McManus, Recording Engineer Ginger Bruner at KUNV Las Vegas, Producer Becca Pulliam, Executive Producer Thurston Briscoe III at WBGO Jazz 88.3 in Newark and

Thanks to Thea Joselow, NPR Online, for the web presentation.

Purchase Featured Music

Buy Featured Music

Kurt Elling

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?