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MJF66, Sept. 22-24, 2023


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Welcome to the Sands Box, LIVE! w/ Kurt Elling
  • Grounds Artist
Jazz States
  • Sunday, September 25 11:45 am - 12:45 pm Patio Bar

Join your host and 2022 MJF Artist-in-Residence Christian Sands on Saturday and Sunday for live filmings of his web series, Welcome to the Sands Box!

This YouTube series features insightful conversations about composition, the artistic process, musician tips, and more with jazz stars and industry leaders.

These live filmings of Welcome to the Sands Box will take place in the Courtyard Patio on the Grounds, between the Courtyard Stage and the Arena.


Renowned for his singular combination of robust swing and poetic insight, two-time GRAMMY winner Kurt Elling has secured his place among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists. The New York Times proclaimed Elling “the standout male vocalist of our time.” Over a 25-year career of touring and recording, Elling has won three Prix du Jazz Vocal (France), two German Echo Awards, two Dutch Edison Awards, and has been nominated for a GRAMMY award 15 times. He has had a 14-year run atop the DownBeat Critics and Readers polls, and has won 12 Jazz Journalists Awards for “Male Vocalist of the Year”.
Kurt Elling’s voice is instantly recognizable, embracing listeners with his warm, rich baritone and navigating the full span of his four-octave range as a virtuoso improvisor and a compelling storyteller. The Guardian (UK) has named Kurt Elling “a kind of Sinatra with superpowers,” and, “one of jazz’s all-time great vocalists.”
Elling has recorded and toured with Branford Marsalis, Danilo Perez, Stefon Harris, Fred Hersch, James Morrison, and Charlie Hunter. He has performed extensively with larger ensembles like the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra (led by Sean Jones), the Bob Mintzer Big Band, the BBC Concert Symphony (led by Guy Barker), the Metropole Orchestra (Holland), the Irish Radio and Television Orchestra (led by Brian Byrne), the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and the WDR Orchestra and Big Band (Germany).
The Wall Street Journal said “Elling combines authenticity with stunning originality.” TheWashington Post declared that “since the mid-1990s, no singer in jazz has been as daring, dynamic or interesting as Kurt Elling.”
Elling’s dynamism is enhanced exponentially by the fact that he consistently generates new vocal material by writing and recording signature and definitive lyrics to the compositions of foundational jazz composers like  John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, and Joe Zawinul. Additionally, Kurt Elling has co-created multi-disciplinary performances for Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater and the City of Chicago. Jazz at Lincoln Center saw the world premiere of The Big Blind, an entirely new jazz musical-in-progress Elling is co-writing with collaborator Phil Galdston (“Save The Best For Last”). National Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky declared that “In Kurt Elling’s art, the voice of jazz gives new spiritual presence to the ancient, sweet and powerful bond between poetry and music.”
Elling has toured the world in a variety of contexts, including UNESCO-sponsored International Jazz Day performances in Havana, Cuba, in St. Petersburg, Russia, in Melbourne, Australia and Washington DC. He has twice performed at the White House, including a performance in collaboration with the late Marvin Hamlisch and the National Symphony Orchestra for President Obama’s first State Dinner. He has served as Artist-in-Residence at the Monterey and Singapore Jazz Festivals. As a music industry leader, Elling spent six years serving as a Trustee and two years as Vice Chairman of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.   
Kurt Elling performs with MJF On Tour - Celebrating 65 alongside Dee Dee Bridgwater, Christian Sands, Lakecia Benjamin, Yasushi Nakamura, and Clarence Penn on Saturday night in the Arena at 8 p.m., and with SuperBlue featuring Charlie Hunter on Sunday on the Jimmy Lyons Stage in the Arena at 1:50 p.m.