CD review: Kirk Whalum: Romance Language
By Ernest Barteldes
On the new release by Grammy-Awarded saxophonist Kirk Whalum we hear a blend of all his musical influences, ranging from smooth jazz to neo-soul with some Latin touches in between. The disc – which is homage to the 1963 Coltrane-Hartman contribution John Coltrane And Johnny Hartman – opens with “They Say It’s Wonderful,” a gentle bossa nova-inspired ballad. The Brazilian feel continues on “My One And Only Love.” Kevin Whalum (Kirk’s brother) sings with the softness required for this kind of music, sounding as if he’d spent quite some time listening to the works of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto. “Autumn Serenade” has more of a Spanish groove thanks to the Flamenco-tinged playing of Michael “Nomad” Ripoli.
“Almost Doesn’t Count” takes things to a different direction with its bluesy feel. Making a special appearance is Hugh “Peanuts” Whalum (Kirk’s uncle), who delivers the words with great melancholy, which fits the tune to perfection. For those who favor a more smooth jazz direction there are the instrumentals “I Wish I Wasn’t” and “I Wanna Know,” which borrows its introduction from the late Minnie Riperton’s classic “Lovin’ You.”
Romance Language is sure to please fans of Whalum’s and also newbies to his music. The album covers many styles but is cohesive via the careful arranging and Whalum’s unmistakable tone. (Mack Avenue/Rendezvous)
For more information visit www.kirkwhalum.com
Watch a video of Kirk Whalum