Down Beat - 8/97, p.573 stars (out of 5)
- "...Elling spills his guts on every song, and what he does is indisputably jazz....he sells every song so hard....we will hear more from Kurt Elling..."
JazzTimes - 9/97, p.86
"...Elling once again hits gold....Throughout, one is impressed by Elling's heartfelt immediacy, his extraordinary versatility and vocal finesse....Elling sounds a note at once contemporary and timeless..."
Personnel: Kurt Elling, Cassandra Wilson (vocals); Edward Petersen, Eddie Johnson (tenor saxophone); Orbert Davis (trumpet, flugelhorn); Laurence Hobgood (piano, synthesizer); Dave Onderdonk (guitar); Rob Amster (acoustic & electric basses); Eric Hochberg (acoustic bass); Paul Wertico, Jim Widlowski (drums, percussion).
Recorded at Tone Zone Recording Studios, Chicago, Illinois between July 1994 and December 1996 and at Sear Sound, New York, New York on November 13, 1996. Includes liner notes by Neil Tesser.
THE MESSENGER was nominated for a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance.
Personnel: Kurt Elling (vocals); Cassandra Wilson (vocals); Eddie Johnson , Edward Petersen (tenor saxophone); Orbert Davis (trumpet, flugelhorn); Laurence Hobgood (piano, synthesizer); Rob Amster (acoustic bass, electric bass); Eric Hochberg (acoustic bass); Jim Widlowski, Paul Wertico (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Roger Heiss.
Liner Note Author: Neil Tesser.
Recording information: Sear Sound Studios, New York, NY (07/1994-12/1996); Tone Zone Recording Studios, Chicago, IL (07/1994-12/1996).
Photographer: William Claxton.
Arrangers: Kurt Elling; Laurence Hobgood.
This is one of the most interesting jazz vocal sets to be released in 1997. Kurt Elling covers a wide range of music, continually taking chances and coming up with fresh approaches. He is assisted by his longtime pianist Laurence Hopgood, different bassists and drummers, and on various tracks trumpeter Orbert Davis and the tenors of Edward Petersen and Eddie Johnson. Among the more memorable selections are Elling's vocalese version of Dexter Gordon's solo on the lengthy "Tanya Jean," and his spontaneous storytelling on "It's Just a Thing" (a classic of its kind), some wild scatting on "Gingerbread Boy," the fairly free improvising of "Endless," and his mostly straightforward renditions of "Nature Boy," "April In Paris" and "Prelude to a Kiss." Cassandra Wilson drops by for "Time of the Season," but does not make much of an impression. This rewarding and continually intriguing set is particularly recommended to listeners who feel that jazz singing has not progressed much beyond bop. ~ Scott Yanow