Celebrating the February 4 release of his new album, The Gate, Kurt Elling returns to Birdland with his quartet and special guest John McLean. 2010 Grammy winner Kurt Elling is a rarity among jazz vocalists. While planning an academic career, Elling discovered jazz and took to it naturally. Deeply influenced by singer and poet, Mark Murphy, Elling began to develop his idiosyncratic scat style in the smaller clubs of Chicago. As the natural heir to jazz pioneers Eddie Jefferson, King Pleasure, and Jon Hendricks, Elling is the contemporary voice in vocalese. Whether it be Wayne Shorter, Keith Jarrett, or Dexter Gordon, Elling's vocalized interpretation is flawless, and upon Blue Note's reception of Elling's demo, Close Your Eyes was released in 1995. He began to get attention from jazz press, not only for his talent and original style, but also his choice in sidemen, which include Laurence Hobgood and Paul Wertico for a time. Elling has won over jazz critics and fans alike, and The New York Times calls his shows at Birdland, "...good, battering entertainment". Kurt's 2007 release, "Nightmoves" received a Grammy nomination for Best Vocal Jazz Album, and his most recent album, "Dedicated to You" earned him the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Holding the title as 'Best Male Singer' in Down Beat and Jazz Times critics' polls, Elling also serves as the Vice Chair of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.