Some jazz singers excel at singing standards. Others excel at scat-singing or vocalese (writing lyrics for instrumental improvisations and singing them). However, Grammy award-winning vocalist Kurt Elling can do it all.
He easily proved it in front of a small studio audience of Leadership Circle members on April 15th with along with two long-time musical colleagues; pianist, Laurence Hobgood, and guitarist, John McLean.
The first song of the day, Samurai Cowboy, is Kurt’s vocalese reworking of a composition by Marc Johnson called Samurai Hee-Haw (See video below).
He followed that with Estate, featuring lyrics by one of Elling’s major inspirations (and one of the originators of vocalese), Jon Hendricks.
To wrap things up, Kurt, John and Laurence launched into a good, old-fashioned jam with Kurt showing his mastery of scat singing.
Between songs, Kurt talked about his youth as a singer in his father’s church choirs and, more recently, the benefits of working with producer extraordinaire, Don Was, on Elling’s latest CD, The Gate.