always excited when a new Kirk Whalum CD is released. Kirk
is, no doubt, one of the greatest sax players of our time,
and the man's CDs spend a lot of time in my CD players and
iPod. I told several friends of mine awhile back that
Kirk could do a cover of the phonebook and make it sound
good. Whalum has shared his music and his soul with
us for 23 years with 17 multi-genre albums. So I was
excited when Roundtrip was announced.
The press release reads, "The album is a progressive
retrospective, looking at the past with an eye toward the
future. Roundtrip includes re-imaginings
of some of his biggest radio hits, new and/or previously
unrecorded compositions that chart the evolution of his heart-warming
style, and a pair of especially fresh pieces that meld Contemporary
Jazz with spoken word and hip hop."
In all honesty, the first time I heard Roundtrip,
I was disappointed. I just didn't feel it. But
I understand the subjective nature of connecting with a piece
of music, and owing the man his due, I listened to it again. I
couldn't decide if it was the mix, or what, but it still
didn't grab me. Now, I wouldn't give many artists
a third chance. For most, after not connecting the
second time, I'd just set it aside and move on to something
else. But Kirk isn't most artists. So I downloaded
it to my iPod and absorbed with it for a few days. I'm
glad I did. Sometimes we just need to be still and
let the music flow around us for a while. Most of
the time, we're just too busy to do that… at least
we think we are. But this was one of those great reminders
to slow down a little and enjoy the good stuff. I can
now say wholeheartedly that I love this album.
The concept behind this album is great. Any of us "over
forty" folk understand how our past influences our present,
how quickly the present blends into the past, and how embracing
them both guide us into the future. So Kirk takes that
Roundtrip journey with this project.
I'm not going to go track-by-track, I'm going to leave that
to you, but some of the highlights for me are the title track,
which features the Whalum family (brother Kevin, uncle Hugh "Peanuts",
son Kyle, and nephew Kenneth); "Back In The Day" (featuring
another favorite saxman, Gerald Albright, and Whalum's cousin
Caleb Tha Bridge); "In A Whisper" (featuring Kim
Fields – this one would feel right at home in a Tyler
Perry movie); and "Afterthought" (pure Whalum).
Go ahead… book your Roundtrip.
- Elizabeth Ware