Kurt Elling – Man in the Air (Blue Note)
For Man in the Air, Elling's sixth Blue Note CD, the singer has composed the vocal parts for ten of the twelve tracks, putting words to the melodies of Coltrane (“A Love Supreme” no less!), Pat Metheny, Joe Zawinul, Bob Mintzer and Herbie Hancock. To say that he is a compelling lyricist dealing with daunting material is to undervalue his multifaceted talent. He has mastered the jazz vernacular using his baritone voice more like a horn than any other singer. Added to that is his astonishing vocalese concept that sparsely employs the dreaded scatting of some jazz vocalists. Rather, he composes poetry, wails, and raps that are important to understand not just hear.