Kurt Elling is one of the truly innovative vocalists in mainstream jazz today.

Kurt Elling is one of the truly innovative vocalists in mainstream jazz today. "Man in the Air" showcases one of Elling's most distinctive talents, that of setting lyrics to jazz instrumental solos. Ten of the 12 songs feature lyrics written by Elling, and a good deal of this material is very impressive. The opening track on the album, "Minuano," is one of the strongest offerings. The tune is a Pat Metheny original. Elling adds adroitly phrased, wonderfully imaginative lyrics, and he is supported by equally well-phrased solos from Brad Wheeler (soprano sax) and longtime collaborator Laurence Hobgood (piano). Elling's most challenging outing on the record is his take on Coltrane's "Resolution." The song requires all of Elling's vocal control and power. He rises to the task, laying down a remarkable performance.—PVV