Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kirk Whalum “Romance Language”


Romance Language

Grammy Winning Saxophonist’s reimagined take on the John Coltrane/Johnny Hartman masterpiece.

It takes a load of talent to dare to make an iconic album and it takes a lot of confidence to dare to remake a masterpiece by the acknowledged master of your instrument. Kirk Whalum has that talent. And, apparently he backed it up since Romance Language went to number one on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts shortly after it’s release, naturally, on Valentines Day.

It’s also sadly appropriate that the man who toured for years as the warm up for Whitney Houston would release this album now.

Whalum is often labeled ‘smooth jazz’ but he has garnered 12 Grammy Nominations in just about every musical genre except Death Metal; with music ranging from pop to R&B to  jazz, he finally won  Best Gospel Song (“It’s What I Do”-featuring Lalah Hathaway) .

The Coltrane/Hartman classic was made in 1963. Though Coltrane and Hartman had known each other since their days playing with Dizzy Gillespie's band in the late 1940s Hartman is the only vocalist with whom the saxophonist would record as a leader. Initially when producer Bob Thiele approached Hartman with Coltrane's request that the two record together Hartman was hesitant as he did not consider himself a jazz singer and did not think he and Coltrane would complement one another musically. However, Thiele encouraged Hartman to go see Coltrane perform at Birdland in New York to see if something could be worked out. Hartman did so, and after the club closed he, Coltrane, and Coltrane's pianist McCoy Tyner, went over some songs together. On March 7, 1963 Coltrane and Hartman had decided on 10 songs for the record album, but en route to the studio they heard Nat King Cole on the radio performing "Lush Life", and Hartman immediately decided that song had to be included in their album. They settled on seven tracks, but “Afro Blue’ was cut from the final pressing.

Kirk Whalum “You Are To Beautiful” from Romance Language

Here, all six tracks that were included in ‘63 are included along with four modern and romantic ballads. Covering Hartman’s original vocals is Kirk’s brother, Kevin and he does more than justice to the tunes. Kevin Whalum's sophisticated voice, are always cool  while Kirk Whalum's sax solos and fills are simply beautiful, warm and nuanced. The aural Valentine unfolds with the grace of an intimate, seductive love letter.
Genuinely heartfelt, suave, debonair and poetically passionate.

The crack musicians accompanying the Whalum's are John Stoddart
(piano, keyboards, organ, backing vocals as well as production), Marcus Finnie (drums), Braylon Lacy (bass), Kevin Turner (electric guitar), Michael "Nomad"
Ripoll (acoustic guitar), Ralph Lofton (organ), George Tidwell (flugelhorn, trumpet), and percussionists Bashiri Johnson and Javier Solis. Whalum's 83 years-young uncle, Hugh "Peanuts" Whalum, poured his distinctive, emotion-charged voice into the
broken-hearted "Almost Doesn't Count" and the poignant bonus track, "You Are So Beautiful."

In addition to the traditional CD and digital version, an extended and enhanced digital version of Romance Language will be released as the world's first complete LiveAudio optimized album for JAMBOX by JAWBONE, a leader in personal mobile technology devices. LiveAudio allows music to be enjoyed in a 3D-like, surround sound experience from a single, small Bluetooth wireless speaker. This one-of-a-kind
version of Romance Language will be available exclusively at


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Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

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