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Nightmoves

4.5 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 3, 2007
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Elling,Kurt ~ Nightmoves

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Chicago vocalist Kurt Elling's limber and deep tenor voice is at home in a myriad of idioms, from straight-ahead, Latin, and pop, to poetry, and his wide artistic range is fully reflected in his Concord debut. As in his six previous recordings, his longtime pianist-arranger Laurence Hobgood is at the helm of his trio, with special guests including bassist Christian McBride, Yellowjackets saxophonist Bob Mintzer, and the Escher String Quartet. Building on Jon Hendricks's and Eddie Jefferson's scat-vocalese styles, Elling lyrically caresses and melodically illuminates Michael Franks' title track, jazz diva Betty Carter's angular "Tight," and the rarely-performed Duke Ellington number "I Like the Sunrise." The Guess Who's 1969 rock cut "Undun," surprisingly, comes off, as does the bossa nova "Change Partners/If You Never Come to Me," with its reference to Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Useless Landscape." The question is: what can't he sing? --Eugene Holley, Jr.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 3, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Concord Jazz
  • ASIN: B000MCID64
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,376 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Rick Cornell VINE VOICE on April 13, 2007
Format: Audio CD
When Kurt Elling first burst on to the scene in the mid 1990's on Blue Note, he was astounding. He was a beat poet who could sing. His vocalese on tunes such as "Tanya Jean" and "Gingerbread Boy" was breath-taking. His patron saints seemed to be Jack Kerouac and Mark Murphy.

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.
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Format: Audio CD
I'm not qualified to give an objective review of the new Kurt Elling album "Nightmoves," but then again if you believe in the fallacy of critical objectivism then I could really use your help getting to some of the funds that my father left in escrow when the coup removed him from power in Nigeria.

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.
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Perhaps a major testimony to Elling's pre-eminence, perfectionism, and artistry is that he can afford to take four years between albums and keep his poll-winning streak intact. Listeners by now know the wait will be worth it, and this time Elling doesn't disappoint. Although there are a couple of misfires, the album as a whole is a successful and communicative labor of love, featuring a stunning program, stellar performances, and the performer in sterling voice. This one easily compares with "The Messenger" (the vocal transcription of "Body and Soul" is no less ambitious than "Tanya") and "Flirting With the Twilight" (the Sinatra-like breath support, rich and expressive timbre, and totally believable readings are even more impressive on the present outing).

"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.
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