The prize for ingenuity on FLIRTING really belongs to Laurence. The side is defined by the arrangements he created — a sound he invented (or at least reinvented). It was Laurence who heard what was possible for voice, rhythm section and three horns and it was Laurence who wrote it all down. In that spirit, here is Laurence to give his own account of what happened...    -KE…read more

I still tell people that making this record may have been the experiential highlight of my career to date.

The experience started with the crafting of the arrangements. Kurt and I worked totally in tandem at first; as always, I wanted to sculpt the arrangements around what he wanted to do. The three-horn configuration was new territory for us, though, presenting extra challenges not just in terms of molding everything to Kurt, but also the desire to achieve a balance between a "classic" sound and modern rhythmic and harmonic shapes. The results demanded, among other things, that the horn players we would use had to be both highly skilled soloists and seasoned section players; the parts are very independent and, with only three, each had to be capable of being very strong and sensitive and yielding at the same time.

As we worked, we both seemed to trust the direction the arrangements were taking. By the time I was doing the last couple of arrangements Kurt was trusting enough to let me work on my own (by that time his hands were officially full with other things.)

Then came the recording itself. What can I say? We had one of the greatest engineers who ever lived in Al Schmitt, we were in Capitol Studio One where Sinatra, Nat Cole, Streisand and many others had laid down legendary tracks. I was not only getting to play with two of my rhythm section heroes, Peter Erskine and Marc Johnson, but, to a great extent – because of the arrangements – I was directing the proceedings. It was a bit dizzying, but on a little break the first day Peter said some very supportive things — he loved the arrangements, our plan of attack, everything was cool.

We tracked for two days with just Kurt and the trio. I may have had my hands full but it didn't escape me how great Kurt sounded. This record definitely represented the most minimal involvement on his part of anything we'd done but his soaring, gorgeous voice brought light and meaning to everything we were playing.

And then, on the third day, the horns came in to lay down all of their parts in one day. We'd pre-tracked everything except the ballad medley, which had rubato sections and had to be tracked live with everybody.

Up to this point I'd only heard the horn parts in my head and you can't know how nerve-racking it was to have to wait until that day, afraid that, even though the basic arrangements performed by the rhythm section sounded great, the added horn parts would be full of bad choices, clashing rhythms, downright mistakes and God knows what else.

As the day unfolded I think it's fair to say that everyone was increasingly excited at what we were hearing. Peter and Marc graciously stayed around in case something in their parts needed attention but it never did. I'll never forget standing out in the main room, conducting the horns on "Not While I'm Around", and, looking into the control room, seeing Bill Traut with this huge grin on his face.

It was still a very long day; at about the ten hour point I went up to Bob Sheppard and said, "Hey man, I'm just checking in – I know it's been a long one but we've still got a couple things to do." He looked at me and said, "Are you kidding? Do you know how often I get to do this? Never! Man, I'm here as long as you want me!" That was cool.

That night we took the roughs back to the corporate housing we were staying in and, after listening for about 5 minutes, I called Kurt in his room and said, "Man, can you believe this?" and we were both just freaking over the phone.

It must also be noted that the experience of returning to L.A. a couple weeks later and mixing with Al was almost as mind-bending as the tracking days. Al's a magician, that's all there is to it. I probably learned more making this record than anything else I've ever done.

Kurt Elling
Clay Jenkins
Jeff Clayton
Alto Saxophone
Bob Sheppard
Tenor & Soprano Saxophones
Laurence Hobgood
Marc Johnson
Peter Erskine
1Moonlight Serenade lyrics  
2Detour Ahead  
3You Don't Know What Love Is  
4Orange Blossoms In Summertime lyrics  
5Not While I'm Around  
6Easy Living  
7Lil' Darlin'  
8I Get Along Without You Very Well  
9Blame It On My Youth  
10I'm Through With Love  
11Say It  
12While You Are Mine lyrics  
13Je Tire Ma Révérence  
Moonlight Serenade

Music by Glenn Miller & Mitchell Parish
Solo by Charlie Haden
Vocalese lyric by Kurt Elling based on Charlie Haden's improvised melody from the 1991 Charlie Haden/Quartet West recording Haunted Heart

Understand the Night.
When she flashes her sparkling eyes at dusk,
she flirts with Twilight.
When the noise of day dies away,
the Night and Twilight stay and stay,
making quiet love up high over the town.
And the gentle Twilight gives his light,
making a queen of Night.

If I could, I would write a sonnet of the night as a rememberance of your eyes.

And, if you'd promise not to tell,
I could whisper the words in the dark, like a lover.
We could count the stars - the shooting stars -
and talk of lovers through the ages who had lived out of their dreams.
Such will and courage they needed to live in a dream;
to burn, with every breath so serene -
as if they had been the first to find love at all -
like Night and Twilight.
(They were the first of lovers ever.)
Could we be like them - hold on to one another until dawn comes?
Then, we'll fly off and dream until Night and Twilight kiss again.

My love - my one and only love -
let me take you out under the moonlight and show how the Twilight loves the Night;
why he lives for an hour of loving through lifetimes of longing
and sings his moonlight serenade.

Orange Blossoms In Summertime

Music by Curtis Lundy
Lyric by Kurt Elling

When winter is on again
fragrance ends
and the withered leaves
drift down from the dying trees
as they find release.
But I'll remember it:
the sweet perfume of
orange blossoms in summer time.

And when we are far apart
and my heart
feels a winter chill
I've got to lay down and cry.
But I know, by and by,
that I'll remember it:
the sweet perfume of
orange blossoms in summer time.

While You Are Mine

Music by Fred Simon
Lyric by Kurt Elling

In Time we met - one winter night - and the moon shone with a mystic light.
It seemed the world was holding breath - on her way to death

So your adagio - played sweet and low - could grow into a symphony.
Every note played to me sounded clear and fine - in splendid time.

In Time you slept - and every breath - every stillness and each sigh was mine.
I heard the sound of our two hearts - dancing in the dark
Lighter than air - the perfect pair - but it was there I knew that
If the world must pass - so, too, love's gentle flame.
So I'll sing your name - in splendid time
While you are mine.