What would you do different to what you do now?
You mean if I couldn’t sing? Probably a half-drunk ferry captain.
Who inspires you and why?
I try to keep surrounded by those who are smarter and/or more skilled than I am as a matter of course. The most boring thing in the world is to be the smartest guy in the room.
What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I try to sing and write as well as I can music of both immediate and lasting value. I try to be a good husband and father. I contribute money and time to social justice and to progressive politics in the US. I try to use my very limited influence as an artist to speak out in solidarity with victims. My wife and I are also foster parents.
Favourite holiday destination and why?
I rarely book destination holidays since I already travel so much. We tend to plan vacations around family gatherings, and time with friends.
When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
In New York I take friends to the Museum of Art and Design www.madmuseum.org. It’s always filled with beautiful (or at least visually challenging and technically remarkable) works of a contemporary nature. It’s not overwhelming and out-sized like the Metropolitan Museum and there is a bar with an excellent view on the top floor.
What are you currently reading?
The Rub of Time by Martin Amis; Collected Stories by Saul Bellow; and Nobody Gets Hurt by R. J. Bailey.
What are you currently listening to?
The Final Tour – Miles Davis & John Coltrane; DAMN. – Kendrick Lamar; and Threshold of Night composed by Tarik O’Regan
Playing gigs in the same town where my family is so I can be with them all day and then just practice and go to work.
What does the future hold for you?
Considered one of the most exciting and popular jazz performers of our time, Kurt performs in a series of concerts across Australia, including: The Gov, Adelaide (27 May); Bird’s Basement, Melbourne (29 May – 3 June); Astor Theatre, Perth (6 June); Southern Cross Club, Canberra (7 June); City Recital Hall, Sydney (8 June); and The Tivoli, Brisbane (9 June). For more information, visit: www.kurtelling.com for details.
Image: Kurt Elling – photo by Anna Webber