You've got to give Kurt Elling credit for following his heart instead of going along with some probable advisor's likely "marketing plan for instant success in the new millennium." – he decided to make his third album one of love songs, and postpone some of his more adventurous work for later.
Still, this session is a mixture of standards and originals, with support from an excellent Chicago ensemble, and Elling's standard delivery is far from just ordinary. Assisting the jazz singer are acoustic guitarist Dave Onderdonk, pianist Laurence Hobgood, drummer Michael Raynor, acoustic bassist Rob Amster, tenor saxophonist Eddie Johnson, and several others. You can find more information about Kurt Elling can be found at http://www.opendoormanagement.com/ .
The album's attention to detail in the liner notes is quite disappointing. Although Elling's session offers a message of love and romance colored by beautiful music and timeless lyrics, neither the composers nor the lyricists are listed. The liner notes writer, who is not identified, provides a professional analysis of the album, but with descriptive terms and phrases that detract. Conversational descriptions such as "grievathon," "jazz dude," "some stuff," and "Kurtski" belong in the chat room or lounge, but not as part of a listener's library. However, all things considered, this is an album of Kurt Elling's music, and it's possible that the writer simply got caught up in the mood.
Elling's natural vocal talent is evident in his standard treatments of "My Foolish Heart," "Where I Belong," "She's Funny That Way," "A Time for Love," Dorival Caymmi's "Rosa Morena," Ray Noble's "The Very Thought of You," and Cole Porter's "Every Time We Say Goodbye." Creating a "Four Freshmen" effect, Elling overdubs / harmonizes his melody on "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing." This pleasant exchange and his Portuguese lyrics on "Rosa Morena" are refreshing, while still adhering to the album's theme of romance.
With a swing rhythm section and guest violinist Johnny Frigo's interlude, "I Feel So Smoochie" turns its heels as a happy jaunt suitable for dancing. Scat-singing on "My Love, Effendi," Elling offers a dramatic romp that also includes his own lyrics; Hobgood interprets McCoy Tyner's music with a powerful approach, filled with his own whirlwind keyboard phrases. Elling takes Freddie Hubbard's "Delphia," adds lyrics and his unique vocalese touch, and the piece becomes "Freddie's Yen for Jen." For this number, the singer infuses the same dynamic vocal style exhibited on his previous albums and in live performances. Expressing romantic feelings with his personal bundle of vocalese, scat, and spontaneous inflections, Elling offers a romantic message that comes directly from his heart. Highly Recommended.