His voice is not that of a singer fronting a band but voice as the lead instrument in a tight ensemble. That approach is essential to scat singing, which uses wordless syllables to communicate and utterances have sonic but not literal meaning. Elling scats very well, but he is a master of vocalese: lyrics written and performed, often improvised, as melodies, or to supplant instrumental solos.
His choice of material stamps him as an apostle of romantic love, the salvific kind that heals and makes whole. Elling is a true believer in the mold of Al Green, testifying to one of the most attractive (and wounding) ideas of modernity.