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Deal-Closer Dates:
The Soundtrack

by Jesse Kalb

It's a problem. One that The Rules, thankfully, cannot solve. How to navigate the Girl-I'm-Seeing --> Girlfriend chasm. You need what Mamet would call a deal-closer date. You need Kurt Elling.

You're looking for a way out of the box, see. You finally worked up the nerve to ask her out, and (yikes!) she said yes. You've had a romantic dinner together, seen a movie, been to a friend's house party, maybe stayed over, maybe not. She wants to commit, you can tell. You think you do, too. But what to do? The next date is crucial.

You flip through the pages of Time Out -- or click through BG's Big To Dos -- for your genius next move, not sure what youíre looking for (in either). A friend suggests you go hear some music, and you think it's not a bad idea. But whom?

Well. Kurt Elling is a jazz vocalist with a voice as soft as honey and a raw romanticism that will stare you down and leave you shaking your head. He steps out on stage and right from the giddyap it's quite clear who's the smoothest homey in the house. He lays on the charm as thick as he pleases, and in a good way. His voice travels from Cole Porter to Tom Waits to nowhere you've ever been in your date's fluttery hearbeat.

Al Green, you say? Played out.

Barry White? Please.

Frank Sinatra? You can't take a date to see him at the Copa.

I'm not a music critic; I'm just opinionated. And this guy has got it going on. He can croon, he can kick ass, and knows when to do each/both. For God's sake, the man quotes Herman Hesse on stage -- and pulls it off.

Oh, and his latest album? It's called "This Time It's Love." Go ahead and drop the 15 on the CD, then catch him when he comes to town. 'Cause when you're ready to quit playing around, there ain't no half-steppin'.

Jesse Kalb grew up in Brooklyn and is probably not as smooth as he thinks he is.

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