- Released: May 23, 1995
- Originally Released: 1995
- Label: Blue Note Records
- 1.Close Your Eyes
- 2.Dolores Dream
- 3.Ballad Of The Sad Young Men
- 4.(Hide The) Salome
- 5.Married Blues
- 6.Storyteller Experiencing Total Confusion
- 7.Never Say Goodbye (For Jodi)
- 8.Those Clouds Are Heavy, You Dig?
- 9.Wait 'Till You See Her
- 11.Now It Is Time That Gods Came Walking Out
- 12.Never Never Land
- 13.Remembering Veronica
Personnel: Kurt Elling (vocals); Edward Peterson, Von Freeman (tenor saxophone); Laurence Hobgood (piano, synthesizer); Dave Onderdonk (acoustic & electric guitars); Rob Amster (acoustic & electric basses); Eric Hochberg (acoustic bass); Paul Wertico (drums, percussion).
Recorded at Tone Zone Recording, Chicago, Illinois between February 14 and November 2, 1994. Includes liner notes by Laurence Hobgood.
CLOSE YOUR EYES was nominated for a 1996 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance.
An utterly unique performer, Chicago-based vocalist Kurt Elling debuts with his bold, brash aesthetic fully formed on this 1995 outing for the venerable Blue Note label. While Elling's music falls into the jazz category, he often pushes his work into the spoken-word/beat-poetry realm on many of these 13 tracks. Like a soul-patch-sporting fusion of Frank Sinatra and Jack Kerouac, Elling launches into lyrically dense, lightly swinging tunes such as the cheeky "(Hide the) Salome" and the smooth "Never Say Goodbye (for Jodi)," making occasional madcap detours, as on the rambunctious "Married Blues," where he uses an odd accent over frenetic free-jazz backing. Keeping Elling's outsized presence in check are intuitive, top-notch musicians, including pianist Laurence Hobgood and bassist Eric Hochberg, along with guest saxophonists Von Freeman and Edward Peterson. Although Elling may be too restless for some listeners, it is this sort of unabashed adventurousness that has garnered the singer acclaim (including multiple Grammy nominations), and this album is a fine introduction to his uncompromising musical vision.