Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter 2
To the delight of many, Kirk Whalum is back with a follow-up on his acclaimed Gospel According to Jazz project from 1999. As one of music's dominant saxophone players, Whalum consistently brings his deep Gospel roots to everything he touches.
Recorded live at the West Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles, Whalum continues with his expert and loving lead sax interpretations of songs both familiar and fresh. Making the project extra special is the inclusion of several notable guest artists on both the vocal and the instrumental side. That includes his brother Kevin on vocals, and his son Kyle on bass.
The project unfolds with an innovative musical interpretation of "John 1:1". Whalum soars his saxophone to heaven's heights, accompanied by choir singing the inexplicable beauty of the profound scriptural text found in the opening verses of the Gospel of John.
Occasional brief remarks from Whalum to introduce some numbers bring both an intimacy and a personality to this recording, something that is further enhanced by the enthusiastic audience response throughout.
Whalum continues to unwrap layers of creativity with songs such as "So Far So Good" (with keyboard master George Duke on vibraphone) and the gently-soothing melody of "Thy Kingdom Come", featuring Jonathan Butler on acoustic guitar. Both feature songwriting collaboration from the veteran Tyrone Dickerson.
Kirk's brother Kevin Whalum picks up where he left off on Chapter I, delivering soulful vocals on two songs: "Ta Ta You Jesus" (the Gospel cover of the Johnny Watson song) and in a glorious duet with Kim Burrell on "The Moment I Prayed".
Jonathan Butler's enthusiastic and honest guest vocals on "Falling In Love With Jesus" carries over to the congregation. Likewise, the energy abounding in the vocal-instrumental interplay of "Wordless Praise" makes for memorable moments.
For beauty and for excellence, Gospel According to Jazz Chapter 2 holds the banner high.
— reviewed by Stan North —
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