Kirk Whalum - Make Me A Believer





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Uploaded on Mar 14, 2010

For yours is the kingdom, the victory and the majesty, the power and dominion, for all that is in heaven and earth are yours1 Chronicles 29:11a

On October 13, 2007, at Reid Temple AME Church on the outskirts of Washington DC, a standing room only audience packed the 3000-plus capacity state-of-the-art worship complex to experience the transforming power of Kirk Whalums The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter III.

Recorded live by three generations of Whalums and some of the most resounding names in Jazz, Pop, Gospel and R&B, The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter III comes ten years after the first chart-topping Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter I CD debuted, and in the wake of the Grammy nominated, Stellar Award winning second chapter, released in 2002.

Although Whalum—who lives up to his reputation as the most influential saxophonist of his generation—is front and center throughout, this is undoubtedly an ensemble recording.

He shares the stage with what could be called the Whalum dynasty (three generations and six Whalums: brother Kevin (vocals); Uncle Peanuts (vocals, sax, and piano); son, Kyle (electric bass); nephews Kenneth III (saxophone) and Kortland (vocals), plus first cousin Caleb tha Bridge (vocals/rap).

The unparalleled George Duke, featured on both I and II, returns on keys, and is joined by vocalist Lalah Hathaway, guitarist Doc Powell, keyboardist/vocalist John Stoddart, trumpeter/vocalist Aaron Broadus, stand-up bassist, Reginald Veal, percussionist Lenny Castro and Kirks former bandmate, drummer Sean McCurley.

Whalum purposely included songs and featured guests that are not traditionally thought of as gospel or Christian with stunning affect. George Duke offers up one of the performances of a lifetime on Diane Warrens Because You Love Me.

It's shimmering elegance and delicacy, punctuated by the occasional and unexpected gospel chord, lifts worship to new heights as a love song becomes an ascendant instrumental prayer.

Lalah Hathaway, again, not your usual suspect, brings a depth of meaning and opulent warmth to the bluesy, Its What I Do, and to Luther Vandross & Nat Adderleys Make Me a Believer. The latter performed as a duet with Kirks brother Kevin who adapted the lyrics, transforms a sensual love song into a conversation with the Father.

On Hes Been Just That Good, Hathaway makes giving thanks infectiously addicting, and her nuanced performance of bonus track The Thrill is Gone. is sure to raise an Amen.

The albums other bonus track is a post-concert recording of You Are Everything, reprising the concert version with spoken-word, featuring Bishop T.D Jakes and his wife Serita in the steamiest performance by a minister and his wife since King Solomon wrote the Song of Songs. I love that its kind of controversial; it makes people think. comments Whalum.

Whalum is acutely aware that there is a risk in including so many members of ones family. But this is the kind of nepotism that pays off for both those in the audience and onstage. Kirks brother Kevin is not only a perfect match for the smooth stylings of Ms. Hathaway, but he brings the humor and subtlety of a Michael Franks and the expressive creativity of Bobby McFerrin. Kevin and Kirk play off each other on John Stoddarts delightfully danceable Afro-Caribbean invitation to prayer, If You Ever Need Me with intricate solos by McCurley and Castro.

Ranging from silky smooth to eloquent sound-sculpting and steamy scatting on Frankie Beverlys Running Away, Kevin creates a dramatic conversation successively with Duke, Kyle, and Castro as they respond instrumentally in a language that needs no translation.

God has definitely graced Whalum, and that sentiment is reflected in what is really the only remotely traditional sounding gospel song on The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter III. Hes Been Just That Good. It is ironic that the most gospel-centric of the three-projects, the most missional and evangelical in the best sense of the word has the least gospel intonations in terms of arrangement, sensibility and style.

Whalum says, "I was determined to go further towards the word Jazz. Its such a big word. Between each song Im talking about what is Jazz, how does it relate to God as creator and improviser."

The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter III, in all its breath and breadth, plaintive wailing saxophones, deep and rich harmonies, sensual romance, delightful humor, artful space, and awesome beauty tells His story in a way no other music can. The Gospel According To Jazz is good news, indeed.

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