The Gospel According to Jazz: Chapter III
It's no surprise, then, that his most recent release, The Gospel According to Jazz: Chapter III comes with great anticipation. In classic Kirk Whalum fashion, the album does not disappoint and manages to satisfy even the keenest musical appetite.
The double-disc, recorded live at Reid Temple in Glenn Dale, Maryland, boasts seventeen tracks and is filled with nothing but memorable musical moments. From the album's lead track "Call To Worship", Whalum takes listeners on a heavy musical journey that will take multiple listens to fully digest.
Whalum doesn't travel alone on the expedition, bringing a myriad of musical heavy-hitters to share his journey. Nephew Kenneth Whalum III and uncle Hugh "Peanuts" Whalum lend their saxophones to the funky "Fit to Battle". Whalum's 79-year old uncle lends his vocals to an interpretation of the Charlie Chaplin penned classic "Smile". That rendition leads to a "Smile" medley, which features "God Has Smiled On Me".
The familial spirit continues with the presentation of "Rev", a song dedicated to Whalum's late father.
The legendary George Duke sits in the session on piano and leaves his musical imprint throughout the album. Check out his piano feature on "Ananias & Sapphira". A definite can't miss track is the smooth "Make Me A Believer", featuring Lalah Hathaway and brother Kevin Whalum on vocals. This is a certifiable hit.
To no one's surprise, the album features a great deal of musical richness and diversity. "Africa Jesus Africa" celebrates fans and friends on the continent of Africa. The song is a phenomenal melting pot as it fuses African vocal arrangements with funk and jazz instrumentals. This is a definitive keeper. Add 16 bars from Whalum's cousin Caleb Tha Bridge and the musical gumbo is officially complete.
Whalum brings in the blues with the B.B. King classic "The Thrill Is Gone" featuring Hathaway on vocals. This combination works in an amazing way as Doc Powell handles lead guitar on this track. Hathaway's vocals are also found on "It's What I Do", another place for great success.
The album's lone studio cut, "You Are Everything", features tender spoken word moments from Bishop T.D. Jakes and his wife Serita Jakes. This track could easily find its place on a Sacred Love Songs sequel.
Whalum's gift continues to grow while remaining relevant, as is evidenced by this commendable release.
The 'book' known as "The Gospel According to Jazz" is a musical masterpiece deserving of additional chapters. Chapter III is certain to be a favorite with both the musical purist and the casual fan. Be sure to add this release to your collection quickly.
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Top Drawer Records / Rendezvous Records
— reviewed by Gerard Bonner —
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