As promised, I ran (okay, walked!!) out to my local record store and got Kirk Whalum’s new release, “The Gospel According to Jazz – Chapter II” and I was glad that I did. I really enjoyed “The Gospel According to Jazz – Chapter I” album which was released in 1998 for it fused gospel and jazz in such a spiritual way. This new release just takes it to a new level. I first enjoyed Kirk’s saxophone when he was playing with Bob James in the mid-80’s and on subsequent solo projects. The album opens with “John 1:1” which sets the tone for great things to come. Vocalist/Guitarist Jonathan Butler is featured on the instrumental “Thy Kingdom Come” and lends his wonderful voice to the beautiful song “Falling In Love With Jesus” which speaks to the love of God. Percussionist Luis Conte and gospel singer Tata “Maybe God Is Trying To Tell You Sumthin” Vega are featured on “El Todopoderoso” which is filled with Cuban rhythms. It is also a family affair with Kirk’s brother Kevin giving the sensual Johnny “Guitar” Watson groove “Ta Ta You Baby” a gospel twist now named “Ta Ta You Jesus.” Kirk’s son Kyle wrote and plays a great bass guitar on “Seasons” which was dedicated to the victims of 9/11. I know I have mentioned most of the special guests but please note that Kirk is jammin’ and giving God the highest praise on each song. All of the songs were recorded live at West Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles except the jazzy studio track “The Moment I Prayed” featuring Kevin Whalum and gospel singer Kim Burrell. Rounding out this uplifting album are keyboardist George Duke, guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr. and a host of wonderful background vocalists.
Kirk is also featured on the recent release “BWB – Groovin’” with Norman Brown and Rick Braun. Read more about Kirk’s masterful music on his personal website, www.kirkwhalum.com.