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Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
|3. Medley: Change Partners/If You Never Come To Me|
|5. Where Are You?|
|6. And We Will Fly|
|7. The Waking|
|8. The Sleepers|
|9. Medley: Leaving Again/In The Wee Small Hours|
|10. Body And Soul|
|11. I Like The Sunrise|
Elling,Kurt ~ Nightmoves
Top Customer Reviews
And so it's particularly satisfying to watch an artist emerge as more than merely a talented jazz vocalist.
Kurt has a distinctive voice and idiosyncratic lyricism which evolve a uniquely vocalese tone that is completely unique.
This is another recording in the tradition popularised by jazz artists such as Lamberts, Hendricks and Ross("Sing A Song For Basie") and Anita O'Day ("Sings The Winners") where the instrumental solos in jazz compositions are used as the basis for vocals and lyrics.
On this new adventure, his debut albun for Concord, there is a wide array of musicians.The contributions to this recording of pianist/arranger Laurence Hobgood, bassist Christian McBride, drummer Willie Jones III, bassist Rob Amster, tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer, keyboardist Rob Mounsey, harmonica virtuosos Howard Levy and Grégoire Maret, guitarist Guilherme Monteiro and the Escher String Quartet have to be noted.
Elling has raised the bar by some height. With his voice so singular that he can be identified within the first couple of notes, Kurt Elling blends his rich baritone voice with signature scatting and virtuosic vocalese in a wide-ranging repertoire of tunes associated with such greats as Frank Sinatra, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Irving Berlin, Betty Carter, Duke Ellington, Dexter Gordon and Keith Jarrett, managing to avoid sounding flashy and creating something timeless.
The result is excellent, beyond all expectetions.
My highlights : "Nightmoves", "I like The Sunrise", the delightful and inspired medleys "Living Again/In The Wee Small Hours" and "Change Partners/If You Never Come To Me".
You will love this different and fresh album.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
12 years or so later, on this, his debut on Concord, he has evolved. He has become a singer. His patron saints now appear to be Frank Sinatra (and Mark Murphy--but the Murphy of 2005's "One to Every Heart")
Back then, his "wildman persona" translated into a singer who frequently sang out of control. When he was in the upper part of his register, he would screech. If he had been a sax man, I'd say he sounded like Pharoah Sanders.
Now, he sounds more like Zoot Sims or Stan Getz. Check out "The Sleepers", for example. Here, when he goes into his head voice, he sings sweetly and with a full falsetto. He sounds great.
Or check out how he covers "In the Wee Small Hours" (speaking of Sinatra). Kurt Elling has a very nice, resonant bass range, which he didn't used to use much. Here, he does the first chorus of this great old song in his low range, and he sounds great.
None of that is to suggest that he's lost his beat poet vocalese touch, or has become a lounge singer. Check out the new lyrics on "A New Body and Soul"; or check out his King Pleasurish-changes on "Where Are You, My Love" (there's Sinatra again). Or check out his scatting on Betty Carter's "Tight." Any one of these three would have fit on his first two albums.
But with the passage of 12 years, he sings these with more restraint, and more musicality, than he would have back then. I didn't detect any straining at all, and he has increased his range considerably, without losing his unique improvisational abilities in the least.
Kurt Elling has been considered to be the best male jazz singer on the scene for quite some time. For the first time, I'm really inclined to agree. This c.d. is a gem.
Through the first four months of 2007, we've had 3 vocal jazz gems released: Tierney Sutton's "On the Other Side"; Kendra Shank's "Spirit Free"; and this one. 2007 is shaping up to be quite a year...RC
This review is meant for fans.
So, as a fan, I was worried about the "personnel experiments" that Kurt warned us of early in the recording process. Let's face it, we've all been fiercely protective of the "band" as we know it from the realities of the last ten years. However, you must admit: if you're going to use a bassist other than Rob Amster in the studio, it had damned well better be Christian MacBride. The difference in playing styles is noticeable. The difference in quality of player is not. Also, don't worry: Bob Mounsey complements Laurence on keyboards. He does not apparently sit in for him on any track, however-the title track, "Undun" and "And We Will Fly" all have very strong non-electronic piano lines. The new producer, John Chicerelli, also seems to work out very well, cementing the tricky new mix brilliantly.
Elling offers both growth and familiarity to his fans on this outing. "Tight" is a great romantic up tune, most akin to "I Feel So Smoochie" in it's treatment but with hints of the playfulness in "Endless" and the virtuous swing of "The More I Have You." "Nightmoves" reflects a lot of the feeling that was present in "This Time It's Love," especially with regard to "Effendi" for its attention to melodic intensity and "Where I Belong," for its manipulation of emotional reaction via rhythm. The title track also recalls "Never Say Goodbye" from "Close Your Eyes" in structure and sonic palette.
The Hobgood arrangement of "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" gives the song the sense of sincerity it has lacked in every version you've ever heard, adding uncertainty and the true pain of a missing lover to the comping harmony. I trashed the Sinatra and Botti/Sting versions from my iTunes after hearing this version because I'll never again hear them as anything but saccharine and false.
"Body and Soul" is Kurt Elling doing what he does: taking the best version of a standard and lyrically riffing over the solo after the standard head. This vocalese takes his previous masterworks "Tanya Jean" and "Resolution" to task, but rather surprisingly, the solo he covers this time is the version offered by Kenny G from "Classics In the Key of G" instead of the more obvious Dexter Gordon "Homecoming-Live at the Village Vanguard" version. (Just kidding-please don't put a hit out on me.)
"Change Partners" and "And We Will Fly" are two songs Kurt has done live at nearly every show I've attended over the last year and a half, so it may come as a surprise when I say that each of these qualify as one of those rare occasions where the studio version polish actually makes the song an even better experience than the intimacy of a live performance is likely to provide. Notably, Kurt has used two different harmonica virtuosos on this album. Howard Levy's performance gives "Partners" kind of Stevie Wonderfulness while Grégoire Maret soaks "Fly" with a dreamy literalness of the sensation of flight. For me, either of these songs alone is would justify the rest of the album if it sucked. But of course, the rest of the album far from sucks.
Similarly, "The Waking" is a simple, perfect duet between Kurt and his regular genius/comedian/ladies' man bassist Rob Amster that could "make" an album for a lesser artist if that other artist had nothing else of value to record. Contrast this with "Those Clouds are Heavy, You Dig?" from 12 years ago and the growth, expertise and intimacy between the two men as artists draws you in with the comfort of excellence.
The new version of "The Sleepers" follows up "The Waking" (leave it to Elling's midwestern work ethic to get it backwards, putting waking before sleeping.) I assume this was Hobgood's arrangement for the Escher quartet, as it has a great deal more presence and respect for the song than was there on the Hersch recording, along with a confidence of melody and functional harmony that I usually associate with Laurence's work.
"Undun" was the one song that I correctly predicted would end up on the album about a year ago. Elling has established a brilliant tradition of taking songs more familiar to the popular, jazz-deficient mindset and "explaining" the medium of jazz through these pieces to an audience which might not otherwise have the chance to ever "get it." There's plenty of traditional rhythm section and sax comping here for jazz lovers, but also a heaping tablespoon of funk in the swing. This is the song that you can play for the friend who agrees to join you at the concert but says "I won't know any of those songs" (a direct Elling quote from the "Man in the Air" CD release concert, though it was in reference to that album's "Never My Love.")
"Where Are You" and "I Like the Sunrise" are straight-up torch ballads that approximate the performances at the Mill with the addition of a reverb treatment more akin to a larger hall than Jemillo's definitive club.
To sum up my experience of the album, I'd have to say that the biggest revelation maybe shouldn't have been a surprise: that Blue Note was in some ways holding Kurt back creatively. There's an energy, an exuberance and a brilliance here that have never come through in the ones and zeros commitments of the Elling/Hobgood partnership before. Nightmoves is a welcome belligerence of the creative spirit. The music is removing its belt, unbuttoning its slacks and sitting down at the piano bench while groaning something to the effect of finally being free of important and friendly but not entirely welcome dinner guests.
And now, the music is getting to work.
"In the Wee Small Hours" and the medley of Berlin and Jobim (worthy of some of the Sinatra/Riddle juxtapositions on the "concept albums"), and even "Where Are You" are as a whole the most dead-on tributes to Old Blue that I've heard yet, even though they're not explicitly labeled as such. "Body and Soul," like "Tanya," is another tour-de-force inspired by Mr. Long Tall Dexter, whose musical narratives were the instrumental equivalents of the Chairman's vocal ones. Dexter recorded the tune numerous times, and Elling has elected to go with a '76 version from "Homecoming." (I wish it had been the exquisite '70 version from "The Panther," but that's a quibble given Dexter's consistency on each of his recorded improvisations on what is the musical touchstone to all tenor saxophonists not to mention the most recorded non-seasonal popular standard of all time.) As ambitious and well-executed as Elling's transcription is, it fails to catch some of the wry humor that perhaps only Dexter was capable of interspersing with the drama and passion of his storytelling.
An instance where more proves to be far less is Elling's tacking on to Mitchell Parish's simple, noble lyric for Duke Ellington's "I Like the Sunrise" the poetry of Rumi. Suddenly, Ellington's elegiac, haunting hymn of prayerful resignation is transformed into something quite different--evangelical zeal (it sounds as though the vocalist is saying to the original composing team, "Now that's a bad attitude. You should be more positive because Rumi says life is music and music can't die since it's an eternal energy field that assures us all of freedom." I can hear Elling jumping into "Ole Man River," enjoining the singer of the Hammerstein lyric not to give up, not to be "tired of living and scared of dying" because Rumi says so--like the river, we'll all "jes keep rolling along"). I'll take the Ellington-Sinatra version of "I Like the Sunrise" and, if it ever comes to that, the Riddle-Sinatra one of "Ole Man River." But at least the present artist doesn't shy away from offering the listener a clear-cut alternative.
Unfortunately, the CD does not contain a "bonus track" featuring a spirited, marvelous duet between Elling and John Pizzarelli--contractual problems? or was it feared today's audience would miss the allusion to an American movie classic and three American music giants, perhaps even assuming the extra track was "lightweight" in comparison to Elling's incorporation of the poetry of Roethke and Rumi not to mention the music of artiste Keith Jarrett). In any case, it can be downloaded at emusic and perhaps itunes and other sites. Cole Porter's "Did You Evah" (aka "What a Swell Party!) is far from being a cutesy throwaway number. A close comparison reveals that Pizzarelli and Elling pull this one off with the élan of the original Crosby/Sinatra version (from "High Society") while doing Cole Porter proud in the process. The unforced dialog, the humorous "trash talk" between singing rivals, the attempts to outdo one another at self-pitying parody, the effortless harmonizing, the adjustment to different tempos--it's snappy and hip, extemporaneous and exhilarating, and it's not easy to do nor any the less impressive for not meeting the haute couture requirements of the vocalist's fans. In fact, this (presently invisible) track might even qualify as a highlight.
Still, for a 'hardcore, die hard, travelling to the Green Mill to get a slice of Kurt and Co.'s energy' fan...or, hell, if you like Moonlight Serenade, Man in the Air, and his older stuff that demanded your attention with scarcastic, seductive vocalese...you will find this album lacking that. I never thought Elling would leave Blue Note nor would I hear harmonicas within his score; not exactly chocolate in my peanut butter, but it works for what it is.
Change is good, but Nightmoves lacks enough change to show Elling going on a different musical path. Yeah, he cut his hair and mellowed his sound, but he's still Kurt and you'll still love it. Buy a copy and give your musical library some Elling flavor.
I love this album. I was fortunate to hear selections of it when Kurt kicked off his tour a few weeks before the album hit. Needless to say, I was really glad to have tickets for both of his nights here in Seattle because I really needed to hear some of these again.
"Wee Small Hours" is now a Kurt Standard. He owns this song. I have about 6 different versions on my Ipod, and his is a reinvention of the highest order. I only wish it was longer.
And I can't even hear the word "love" anymore without thinking of the chorus of the title track. Even if it is a Michael Franks tune, I've got a new definition for love!
I have a special place in my heart for Kurt's lyrics -- and I think that this is some of his most soulful work. I think that he really keeps the night alive -- it's like I'm drifting through streets, taking glances at different people's lives as we all wait for morning to arrive. I've gone through the night with the album at least twice now and I find it to be a rich experience, picking up something new every time.
Can't leave out the amazing work of Laurence Hobgood (who should be nominated for some serious awards for his continual excellence), as well as the talents of Rob, Willie and Christian for some serious groove.
Two words: Own it.