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Elling has helped reinvent jazz singing for modern times

(Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Jazz singers were out of vogue for a while, perhaps because the focus on trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the young lions who emerged in his wake put the emphasis on instrumentals. But in recent years, vocals have regained their place in the music.

Any discussion of putting an improvisational spin on a lyric would certainly include Dianne Reeves, Diana Krall and Gretchen Parlato. As for their male counterparts, Jamie Cullum, Harry Connick Jr. and Bobby McFerrin immediately come to mind.

But arguably, the artist who’s done the most to reinvent jazz singing for modern times is Kurt Elling, who begins a four-night engagement Wednesday at Jazz at the Bistro.

“A lot of work goes into it,” says Elling, who emerged from the Chicago jazz scene. His 2009 release, “Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman,” won a Grammy for best jazz vocal album.