Husband-and-wife team pianist-arranger Chip Crawford and singer Eve Cornelious are highly schooled artists who feel compelled to demonstrate their hip erudition in every bar of their music. The result is not unimpressive but exhausting to assimilate. Their highly ornamented presentations of standards (“Tenderly,” “Lush Life”) and originals (“A Thoughtful Message,” the title composition) smother the material under layers of vocal mannerisms and relentless harmonic and rhythmic alterations. A medley interweaving lines of “I Love Paris” and “April In Paris” stumbles on its own trickery, and Cornelious’ ambitious attempts to vocalize Miles Davis’ celebrated “My Funny Valentine” and “Flamenco Sketches” solos become piercing when the trumpeter’s dark, muted improvisations are transposed to the singer’s upper range. The pair’s undeniable talents would be more enjoyably and effectively displayed if they cut back on the pyrotechnics and delved deeper into their material.
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