Kurt Elling

Released June 23, 2009

Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album 2010

YouTube: https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=dh4ctfNgePY&list=OLAK5uy_kHzLhSdww_fqfkcY_D9JMSI3CEw0_atG8

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/48OPq8jDBFlY4OM1FRPsnO?si=He8bHM13Soyg-01tkcwhng


Grammy nominated and critically-acclaimed vocalist Kurt Elling released “Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman”, his eighth overall album and second release on Concord Jazz. The live collection was recorded in January 2009 in Manhattan as part of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series. The 12-track release features an all-star cast of musicians including saxophonist Ernie Watts, the Laurence Hobgood Trio and the string quartet, ETHEL.

Throughout his eclectic career, Kurt Elling has roved freely across vocalese, transformed instrumental music, tunes from the Great American Songbook, poetry, theatre, dance and more. His new project began in his home town “as an idea suggested by my friends at the Chicago Jazz Festival,” recalls Elling. “They gave me a call and asked me essentially to reiterate the John Coltrane/Johnny Hartman material for a bill they were planning. I’m always happy to have an idea like that. But it didn’t interest me quite as much to simply reiterate the material. So, I asked if I could do it my own way.”

As the program morphed through various phases, one aspect was consistent – Elling’s desire to place the music in the setting of a string quartet, first with acoustic bass, and later with a complete jazz trio led by Laurence Hobgood, his long-time musical companion, pianist, who also provided most of the arrangements. Kurt recruited Ernie Watts on saxophone and ETHEL, and the group began touring with the project. The response to the program was wonderful and Kurt decided to record the set live in New York at the Allen Room in Lincoln Center.

“Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman” is a stunning spectrum of music, both vocal and instrumental. The album opens with an introductory interpretation of the American Songbook classic, “All or Nothing at All,” in which the interconnectedness between Elling’s vocal and Watt’s tenor saxophone calls up immediate references to the Coltrane/Hartman source. The transformative interpretations of songs such as “Autumn Serenade,” “Nancy With the Laughing Face” and “You Are Too Beautiful” are definitive examples of how to remain true to the inner essence of a song.

“When you hear any of those great masters – like Coltrane – and realize the incredible gift from God that is given to those people, you can’t overstate their importance to the jazz world, to the world in general. And we were very much aware of that fact as we put all this together,” remarked Elling.

Since Elling has been touring with “Dedicated to You”, the project has received critical praise. The Chicago Tribune called it “… some of the best ballad singing being performed today.” The New York Times said, “Mr. Elling has proved his finesse as a Hartman-like melodist… accessing both Coltrane and Hartman, he sounded like no one but himself.”

Throughout his career Elling has earned eight Grammy nominations, top spot placement in the Down Beat Critics’ and Jazz Times Readers’ polls, four Jazz Journalists Association wins for Best Male Vocalist and the Prix Billie Holiday from the Academe du Jazz in Paris.

Track Listing:

1. All or Nothing at All (Arthur Altman / Jack Lawrence) 6:50

2. It’s Easy to Remember (Lorenz Hart / Richard Rodgers) 4:06

3. Dedicated to You (Sammy Cahn / Saul Chaplin / Hy Zaret) 6:36

4. What’s New (Johnny Burke / Bob Haggart) 2:40

5. Lush Life (Billy Strayhorn) 4:40

6. Autumn Serenade (Peter DeRose / Sammy Gallop) 3:11

7. Say It (Over and Over Again) (Frank Loesser / Jimmy McHugh) 6:40

8. They Say It’s Wonderful (Irving Berlin) 4:00

9. My One and Only Love (Robert Mellin / Guy Wood) 3:27

10. Nancy With the Laughing Face (James Van Heusen / Phil Silvers) 4:57

11. Acknowledgements 0:39

12. You Are Too Beautiful (Lorenz Hart / Richard Rodgers) 8:10


Kurt Elling: voice

Laurence Hobgood: piano

Clark Sommers: bass

Ulysses Owens: drums

Ernie Watts: tenor saxophone (1, 4-7, 10, 12)

Corenlius Dufalo: violin

Ralph Farris: viola

Dorothy Lawson: cello

Mary Rowell: violin.

Recorded live at the Allen Room at Fredrick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York, NY, January, 21, 2009
Mixed at Studio D, New York, NY
Mastered at Telarc International, Cleveland, OH

Recorded by Rob Macomber

House Engineer: Bryan Farina

Mastered by Paul Blakemore (3)

Mixed by Dave O’Donnell

Executive-Producer: Chris Dunn (6), Mary Ann Topper

Producer: Kurt Elling, Laurence Hobgood


This is a live collection recorded as a part of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Series, a creative homage to the now classic 1963 John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman recording. For this occasion, a jazz trio led by Laurence Hobgood, vocalist Kurt Elling’s long-time musical partner, pianist and arranger is nestled into the tender brilliance of the string quartet ETHEL. One of the last great exponents of vocalese, Elling is no less a great singing storyteller.

Early on in the set, in the context of “It’s Easy to Remember,” Elling relates “a poetic jazz memory” of Coltrane and Hartman en route to their recording session. If talk between songs often gets old very quickly, in this instance Elling’s recitation is a tour de force. It’s as emotionally riveting as any of his singing performances as it concludes with, “We remember them both… …We’re jazz people.” 
The album opens with an extended, mood-setting intro from ETHEL before Hobgood enters with obsessive chords, a perfect launch for Elling’s high dive into the romantic torment of “All Or Nothing At All.” After a chorus from Elling in which he breathes many fresh possibilities into the word “all,” in comes saxophonist Ernie Watts for some warm, warmer and then hot blowing. Watts shines throughout, most notably on the version of “What’s New,” which closes with the briefest of cut-glass chords from Hobgood. It’s a breathtaking moment that sets an icy martini opening for Elling’s deeply felt “Lush Life.” 
In its creativity this recording affirms just how eloquently “jazz people” honor their own.

Andrew Velez (AllAboutJazz)