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Flirting with Twilight
     

Flirting with Twilight

5.0 1
by Kurt Elling
 

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Call him pretentious or profound, Kurt Elling is an original, which is no mean feat. On his first four Blue Note releases, Elling mixed songbook standards, jubilant and balladic, with original poem-songs, lyric personalizations of jazz standards, and extended, on-the-highwire vocalese improvs that springboarded from the innovations of Eddie Jefferson and Mark Murphy

Overview

Call him pretentious or profound, Kurt Elling is an original, which is no mean feat. On his first four Blue Note releases, Elling mixed songbook standards, jubilant and balladic, with original poem-songs, lyric personalizations of jazz standards, and extended, on-the-highwire vocalese improvs that springboarded from the innovations of Eddie Jefferson and Mark Murphy, his most frequently mentioned stylistic antecedents. Downbeat's reigning Male Jazz Singer of the Year, the 33-year-old Elling mutes the vocalese on Flirting with Twilight, a consequential exploration of 12 American Songbook love songs to which he imparts the legato grace of a master ballroom dancer. In working with such repertoire, Elling challenges us to consider him in terms of a broader ancestral tree, one that includes such interpretive masters as Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Johnny Hartman. It's heady company, and Elling -- in collaboration with his longtime associate Laurence Hobgood, his producer-pianist-arranger, and A-list bass-drum pair Marc Johnson and Peter Erskine -- does himself proud. His tenor voice is appealing and believable. While the chops aren't superhuman, he's refined his technique to the point where he has complete command of his instrument, down to the most innocent crack of the voice. A poet of some accomplishment, Elling understands time and meter and dynamics profoundly, and he executes his ideas with formidable breath control that allows him to extend phrases into fascinating shapes that are unerringly appropriate to the narrative. He cuts to the heart of the lyric, constructs a story, and projects a full complement of drama and emotion, without bathos. These songs were composed a generation before Elling's birth, but in his hands they are anything but covers; there isn't a cookie-cutter moment.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - David R. Adler
Who but Kurt Elling would open a ballads album by singing a Charlie Haden bass solo? It's a typically ambitious move, transforming "Moonlight Serenade," Glenn Miller's perennial slow-dance favorite, into a hip, smoky ode. Elling is a distinctive vocalist, endowed with true musicianship: Listen as he sticks to his band like glue on the very slow tempo of "Lil' Darlin'." That's not easy. Laurence Hobgood, Elling's longtime musical partner, plays outstanding piano throughout and crafts subtle horn arrangements on several tracks. Bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Peter Erskine illuminate the session as well. The horn section -- trumpeter Clay Jenkins, alto saxophonist Jeff Clayton, and tenor saxophonist Bob Sheppard -- is heard to greatest effect on the closing "While You Are Mine" and the beginning of "Detour Ahead." Some of the songs, like Stephen Sondheim's "Not While I'm Around" (from Sweeney Todd), come out sounding a bit bland. But among the best is "Orange Blossoms in Summertime," based on a Curtis Lundy tune, during which Elling executes a harmonized ensemble passage with the horns and holds a climactic long note at the end. Other highlights include the bouncy 6/8 take on "Easy Living" and the drum-and-vocal opening of "I'm Through With Love." While Flirting With Twilight lacks the breadth of a record like The Messenger, it's still a worthy statement from Elling, who shows yet again that vocal jazz can be more than just easy listening. (The U.S. release contains a hidden track, the old Marlene Dietrich vehicle "Je Tire Ma Révérence," which Elling sings in French, backed only by Marc Johnson.)

Product Details

Release Date:
08/28/2001
Label:
Blue Note Records
UPC:
0724353111328
catalogNumber:
31113

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Kurt Elling   Primary Artist,Vocals
Peter Erskine   Drums
Marc Johnson   Bass
Bob Sheppard   Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Clay Jenkins   Trumpet
Jeff Clayton   Alto Saxophone
Bob Shepard   Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Laurence Hobgood   Piano

Technical Credits

Herb Ellis   Composer
Jimmy McHugh   Composer
Frank Loesser   Composer
Gene DePaul   Composer
Johnny Frigo   Composer
John Hendrickson   Engineer
Don Raye   Composer
Schmitt   Engineer
Bill Traut   Producer
Kurt Elling   Arranger,Producer,Art Direction
Zan Stewart   Liner Notes
Laurence Hobgood   Arranger,Producer
John Fraser   Collage
Lou Carter   Composer
John Freigo   Composer

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Flirting with Twilight 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Unfortenetly I had to wait a couple days before I could get my hands on this CD. I saw Elling's quartet a couple of weeks ago in VA. The show was superb. Listing to this CD was great primarily because of the horn section arrangements. Kudos to Hobgood. My favorite cuts are Orange Blossoms... & Easy Living. Nothing compares to his live performances and after Live in Chicago, I was unsure if I would ''feel'' a studio CD. But his smooth vocals and wonderful arrangements make this CD a ''MUST HAVE'' if you like jazz.