On his latest album 1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project, Kurt Elling takes famous pop songs like Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me” and Carole King’s “So Far Away,” and makes them his own—experimenting with rhythms while adding some haunting harmonies (and extra lyrics on occasion as well). Elling’s record may be a concept project that pays homage to the famous New York artists hub, but the Grammy Award-winning jazzman, a former Chicagoan, still has strong ties to the Windy City. In anticipation of Elling’s two Chicago shows this weekend on 10/21 and 10/22 at City Winery (click here for tickets), he shared some of his favorite local places.
"The Green Mill has been integral to my growing as an artist, my ability as a jazz person, and my sense of self and a Chicagoan. I came of age as a working musician there. It’s such a lovely, wonderful, creative hub—it’s the ultimate room for me. But there’s a downside to it; I can’t put the place in my pocket and take it wherever I go."
"I really miss the Promontory Point and the lakefront. There’s such a crowd of buildings in New York and you can never get away from the manmade landscape, but at the lakefront, you can see for miles and there’s nothing that a human being has touched. It’s a profound thing, and really good for your spirit."
"I love places with a lot of history, where you can read the past on the walls. Gene & Georgetti’s is a place where you know many movers and shakers made change happen. And the food—those lamb chops are unparalleled! And I know some lamb chops; nobody can touch Gene & Georgetti’s. That’s the spot."
"We have so many friends in Chicago and one great place to meet up is Eleven City Diner. It’s real home style and the menu is good—it’s just real good.”
Photograph: Anna Webber