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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating modern vocal jazz, 17 Aug 2006
By 
H. Robson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Messenger (Audio CD)
I bought this album on impulse, since I was totally unfamiliar with Kurt Elling, out of a desire to discover an interesting voice in contemporary vocal jazz. My first sampling of the CD left little impression as I skipped fleetingly between tracks - it was only when I listened to it all the way through that the quality of the performances came through.

Elling is in possession of a powerful yet finely controlled voice, capable of sounding a variety of timbres to suit any given arrangement. His choice of material on this album allows a good expression of this versatility, ranging as it does between classic ballads such as Prelude To A Kiss and the wildly original take on Jimmy Heath's Gingerbread Boy. Indeed the scat and other vocal effects employed by Elling on selections like this are at first a little terrifying, but provide a compelling insight into the strength of his abilities.

The whole set is considerably enhanced by the contributions of the supporting band, in particular pianist Laurence Hopgood. His impeccable playing on The Beauty of All Things, an original by Elling and himself, turns it into a beautiful offering; equally impressive is the rhythmically propulsive piano texture of Tanya Jean, the centrepiece of the set.

This is far from Easy Listening, and though some tunes, such as April In Paris, are given a relatively straightahead treatment, the majority of the music is fresh and innovative. For those interested in high quality jazz singing from the last decade, this is a shrewd purchase.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kurt Elling-message received, 2 Jan 2011
By 
Mr. A. G. Bungay "Bossa Lopsida" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Messenger (MP3 Download)
Kurt comes from a theological background which infuses several of the lyrics here. The measure of the man is how streetwise he is along with his personal heritage. Jazz is maybe the idea place to marry these disparate influences. I think it may have been this set that made him utterly convinced of the efficacy of what he was doing, along of course with the jazzers who heard it. There are some brilliant rework grooves here with the happily ubiquitous Laurence Hopgood on piano and arrangements. In technical terms 'Tanya Jean' is staggering, and the whole set is steeped in authenticity and depth of field. Cassandra Wilson guests deliciously on 'Time of the Season' too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pure class..., 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Messenger (Audio CD)
I think this is the album where Kurt Elling really put all his outstanding talent together with no reservations. Sometimes he can be self-consciously hip, but here everything is subservient to the song. The set is very varied and there is a real jazz intelligence to everything going on - not just Elling,s interpretations, but his absolutely fantastic band. This is one of the greatest ever jazz voices really finding its groove. Just buy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, as ever, 30 May 2013
By 
Mr. J. Biltcliffe (Colchester, Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Messenger (Audio CD)
Another brilliant addition to our Kurt Elling collection. Possibly the most underrated singer in the world today. We are enthralled and enraptured.
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The Messenger by Kurt Elling (Audio CD - 2002)
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