Search - Kurt Elling :: Messenger

Kurt Elling
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1


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All Artists: Kurt Elling
Title: Messenger
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Blue Note Records
Original Release Date: 4/8/1997
Release Date: 4/8/1997
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Modern Postbebop, Vocal Jazz, Bebop, Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 724385272721, 0724385272752, 724385272752

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CD Reviews

The least of the greatest(in my humble opinion).
Philip M Knowlton | Anchorage, Alaska | 04/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have said to many of my friends that are also hip to Elling's musical prowess and lyrical prolific ness that this particular side is my least favorite of all that he has put out so far. That having been said, this is an amazing record. Kurt is the voice of jazz singing today. And what a hip voice to have too. As an aspiring jazz singer myself, I cannot thank Mr. Elling enough for what he has done for jazz today. In fact, he is the reason I got into vocal jazz in the first place. Here's the breakdown of his second side.
1: Nature Boy, What a great cut! "The greatest joy, you will ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return," he sings softly as a ballad the first time through as the rhythm section bursts into an up-tempo bossa-like even 8th rhythm. His scat solo on this is like non-other.
2: April In Paris. Funk time. The groovy trumpet is a wonderful addition to the groove that is set to spice up this swingin' ol' chestnut.
3: The Beauty of All Things. This is the beginning of a three song suite by Elling and his pianist Laurence Hobgood. It's has a very spiritual fusion feel to it. Kurt does one of his trademark rants of simultaneous melodic and lyrical improvisation even quoting a Keith Jarret lick from his song Questar.
4: The Dance. A sudo-instrumental segue from cut 3 to cut 5. A strictly Hobgood composition. Celtic feel here.
5: Prayer for Mr. Davis. I read in a review that in '91 after hearing of the [demise] of Miles Davis, Hobgood wrote a beautiful piano ballad in his memory. Elling's magically pinned lyric transforms this song into a somber yet peaceful musical wake.
6: Endless. It is at this point that I should mention that this whole side is reportedly based on a two set show the band had done. Endless closes the first set with a very hip jam session during which Elling goes off the deep end in an indescribable stream of unrelated words and phrases.
7: Tayna Jean. A really hip tenor saxophone cat named Dexter Gordon made a record in 1962 called On Flight Up, and on that side he cut a solo that lasted nearly ten minutes on the song Tayna. Tayna Jean is the result of Kurt writing a vocalese lyric of that solo. It's a very flipped out take on musical masters under the guise of a dream.
8: It's Just a Thing. Anyone who doesn't know who Lord Buckley is may have a heard time digging this at first, but it's a great little spoken word prose over a spontaneous tone setting musical background.
9: Ginger Bread Boy. Jimmy Heath's composition made popular by Miles Davis is his free jazz days. Elling just scats the melody and the as he solos so does Hobgood. Anything goes in this tune.
10: Prelude to a Kiss. Duke! Eddie Johnson's sweet sentimental tenor sax intro(most of witch happens with no accompaniment) sets Elling up for the perfect straight interpretation of this classic love ballad.
11: Time of the Season. A Zombie's tune? 60's rock on a 90's Jazz record? When Cassandra Wilson is on board don't be too picky. She has a reputation of doing hip takes on unlikely cuts such as this. The magical duet, the musical backing. I'm still not sure how, but it just works.
12: The Messenger. Title cut, but there's more, so much more. Elling's brother died not long before the making of the side. The lyric he pins over Ed Peterson's surreal masterpiece is a dedication to his brother's memory as is the spoken portion in which he encourages us not to take life nor love for granted. Ever.That is my least favorite of the records Kurt Elling has released. Yes I said least. I have to listen to all the others to remind myself why now and then. My only real complaint is that it's too perfect. Too produced. But that is just an opinion. I love this side and listen to it frequently. That is my Take on the side."
A man who has obviously done his homework!
Philip M Knowlton | 07/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a voice in which one can hear reflections of a number of vocalists, namely Jon Hendericks and especially, Frank Sinatra; the difference being that his voice is much more salty and he swings harder than Frank ever did. He seems to get inside of a pitch, very simular to that of a instrumentalist. This gentleman is the next male vocalist who will join that elite group of jazz vocalists (Joe Williams, Tony Bennett, Al Jarreau, Bobby McFerrin)! If you're ever in Chicago, check him out at the Green Mill on Broadway and Lawrence..........."
Impressive early effort
George Grella | Brooklyn | 03/21/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"As Kurt Elling's discography grows, the quality of this record must be superceded by last year's marvelous "Flirting With Twilight," but this earlier CD will not disappoint. It's a real showcasse of his strengths at vocalese - a truly incredible 'Tanya Jean,' set to the original Dexter Gordon solo off 'One Flight Up' - his original lyrics - a beautiful, personal expression on 'The Messenger' - and his sense of humor - the hilarious hipster-jive of 'Just a Thing.' His duet with Cassandra Wilson is very nice, the two voices a rich blend, but it really shows their divergent paths, with Elling standing out as the only jazz singer of the two. The bland, smooth-jazz funk of 'April in Paris' is the only lackluster point of the whole record, but a minor flaw when listening to the leading young jazz singer. And what a singer . . ."