I recently referred to Kurt Elling as a “consummate insider,” in a Gig column (and, by inference, in this related post). Well, it turns out that he’ll be performing at the White House tonight, for the first official State dinner of the Obama administration. His accompaniment will include not only pianist-sidekick Laurence Hobgood but also an orchestra conducted by Marvin Hamlisch. The guest of honor is India’s prime minister, but you can probably bet that Elling will not perform his Hindu-relevant lines from John Coltrane’s “Resolution.” (For the record, they are: “Vishnu! Preserve us all along the way; keep us clear of the final thunderbolt of the judgement day.”)
There’s a fascinating personal twist that I first learned through Ted Panken’s Elling interview at Jazz.com. Here it is via a Concord press release: “Both Chicago natives, Elling first met then-state senator Obama in the course of a real-estate deal: when the Obamas moved to the Chicago house they now own, Elling and his wife purchased their Hyde Park condominium.” So the conversation tonight could conceivably involve favorite takeout restaurants from the old neighborhood, though I imagine all parties will exercise due restraint.