Evidently, seven is Kurt Elling's lucky number. The jazz singer has seven Grammy nominations under his belt and has earned nods from Downbeat as Male Vocalist of the Year in its annual critics' poll for the past seven years running. Good fortune, however, really has nothing to with Elling's accolades. The guy's got skills: In addition to stretching his warm baritone over four octaves, he's a mad scatter who's also deft in vocalese; on 2003's Man in the Air, Elling -- who honed his chops listening to Mark Murphy, Jon Hendricks and other crooners before him -- set words to songs and solos written by John Coltrane, Pat Metheny and Herbie Hancock. After issuing half a dozen albums on the Blue Note imprint, Elling is slated to make his Concord Records debut next month with the release of his latest (and seventh) effort, Nightmoves.
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