Kurt Elling Talks About 'The Big Blind,' His New Jazz Melodrama, Coming to JALC

Feb 22, 2019

The Big Blind, a radio-style musical drama written by Kurt Elling and Phil Galdston, makes its world premiere March 1 and 2 at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Theatre.

WBGO Theater Critic Michael Bourne sat down recently with Elling, who leads a star-studded cast that includes NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater and Broadway legend Ben Vereen.


The Big Blind is a unique passion project that has been years in the making, and it's like nothing Jazz at Lincoln Center has presented before. The noir-inspired tale, set in the mid-20th century, is about a jazz singer who deals with gangsters and a dangerous dame. 

Elling says it was inspired by the story of comedian Joe E. Lewis, played by Frank Sinatra in the movie The Joker is Wild. The Oscar-winning song "All The Way" is a standard in that show. But The Big Blind mostly features new, original compositions by Elling and Galdston as well as lyric adaptations of songs by Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Joe Jackson, and Jaco Pastorius, all re-imagined to tell a rollercoaster of a tale.

Directed by Terry Kinney, a founding member of Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the cast also includes Ian Shaw and Allison Semmes.  Ulysses Owens Jr.'s New Century Jazz Orchestra is arranged and conducted by Guy Barker.

For tickets and information, visit Jazz at Lincoln Center.