Kirk Whalum duets with his brother, Kevin, to remake a classic album in a Romance Language of their own
Grammy winning saxophonist’s reimaged take on the Coltrane/Hartman collaboration will be released on Valentine’s Day
Most artists would be daunted at the thought of remaking a classic work of art made by legends, but not Grammy winner Kirk Whalum. The multidimensional saxophonist adeptly steps into the role of John Coltrane and tapped his brother, vocalist Kevin Whalum, to fill the shoes of Johnny Hartman on an unabashedly romantic collection of duets originally recorded in 1963 by the seminal artists. Romance Language, due to be released on Valentine’s Day by Rendezvous Music, consists of all six songs that comprise the Coltrane/Hartman recording along with a handful of modern ballads to complete the disc produced by Kirk Whalum and John Stoddart.
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 www.kirkwhalum.com/JAMBOX.
In conjunction with the album release, Kirk & Kevin Whalum will perform a Valentine’s Day concert at the Hilton Portland Downtown in Oregon that will stream live to a global audience through Kirk Whalum’s website, www.kirkwhalum.com.
The Whalum brothers approached the half-dozen standards from the original recording with admiration and veneration. Kirk Whalum and Stoddart crafted fresh arrangements that place the time-tested songs such as Irving Berlin’s “They Say It’s Wonderful,” Sammy Cahn’s “Dedicated To You,” Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” and Richard Rodgers’ “You Are Too Beautiful” in present day R&B-adult pop and jazz settings. The newer songs – including renderings of contemporary hits written by Terry Lewis & James “Jimmy Jam” Harris, Eric Benet, and Joe (Thomas) - maintain the mood, feel and ambience of the storied set. Throughout Romance Language, Kevin Whalum’s suave, velvety voice is cool and in command while Kirk Whalum’s sax solos and fills are inspired, warm and nuanced etchings. The amorous album unfolds with the grace of an intimate hand-penned love letter - seductively sweet, genuinely heartfelt, and poetically passionate. Recorded “live” at Dark Horse recording studios in Nashville with very little overdubbing, the musicians accompanying the Whalum’s were Stoddart (piano, keyboards, organ, backing vocals), 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. Kirk & Kevin 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.”
“Romance Language, now so elegantly completed, absolutely qualifies for my bucket list. Having been a fan of Kevin's luscious voice for over 30 years and a fan of the Coltrane/Hartman recording for at least that long, this project is more of a consummation than just serendipity. Every time I listened to the Coltrane/Hartman recording, I thought of Kevin and mused at the idea of redoing the whole album with my little brother. Kevin caressed each and every note. My other ‘brother,’ John Stoddart ‘dined’ with me on these arrangements. My touring band embraced each performance as we recorded ‘live’ in the studio––virtually no overdubs, over-takes or over-production. Just sheer joy and love, respect and reverence for the original recording as well as these amazing compositions,” said Memphis native Kirk Whalum, who will tour with Kevin in the spring to support Romance Language. “Oh... and boy is this album romantic. I invite you to take it on a test drive. Drive slow.”
Romance Language is Kirk Whalum’s 19th album as a front man since his 1985 solo debut, Floppy Disk. He topped the Billboard contemporary jazz album charts twice (And You Know That! and Cache) and amassed 11 Grammy nominations. Whalum took home a coveted Grammy earlier this year for a duet with Lalah Hathaway that appeared on his The Gospel According to Jazz: Chapter III. An ordained minister who earned a Master’s degree in the Art of Religion, Kirk Whalum has forged an unparalleled career path in both the secular and the non-secular music words, garnering hits, awards and accolades for his jazz, R&B and gospel recordings. His soulfully expressive tenor sax voice is unique and has appeared on literally hundreds of recordings by Barbara Streisand, Quincy Jones, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Michael McDonald, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, and Larry Carlton as well as on collaborative albums with Bob James, Rick Braun and Norman Brown. When not recording or performing, he educates and mentors the next generation of musicians in his role as president/CEO of the STAX Music Academy and the STAX Museum of American Soul Music. Additional information is available at www.kirkwhalum.com.
The songs contained on Kirk Whalum’s Romance Language are:
“They Say It’s Wonderful”
“Dedicated To You”
“My One and Only Love”
“You Are Too Beautiful”
“Almost Doesn’t Count”
“I Wish I Wasn’t”
“I Wanna Know”
“Spend My Life With You”
“You Are So Beautiful” (bonus track)
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