Kirk Whalum - Romance Language

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole�s Secret Garden, the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul.

It was in 1963 that legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane collaborated with vocalist Johnny Hartman to create an album of romantic standards which has since been described as being essential for all jazz collections. Simply titled John Coltrane And Johnny Hartman, and with a running time of only thirty minutes, it comprised six classic compositions from the likes of Rodgers & Hart, Irving Berlin, Sammy Cahn and Billy Strayhorn.

Fast forward almost fifty years to Grammy winning saxman Kirk Whalum who has re-recorded the complete collection, added four more tracks and, with the help of younger brother Kevin Whalum, delivered the truly sensational Romance Language.

The CD opens much like the 1963 original with a spine chilling rendition of the timeless �They Say It�s Wonderful�. It provides the brothers with an early opportunity to declare their mellow intent and they stay in deliciously turned down mode throughout. In fact Romance Language proves to be a decidedly family affair as with �Almost Doesn�t Count� the vocal honors pass to Kirk�s uncle, the 83-year-old Hugh �Peanuts� Whalum. His gravelly zones on this fresh re-imagining of Brandy�s 1999 hit single are a real show stopper yet standout songs just keep on coming and with Sammy Cahn�s haunting �Dedicated To You�, Whalum delivers another.

The familiar strains of �My One And Only Love� will transport those in the know into the soundtrack of any number of Woody Allen movies and later, as Kevin Whalum slips effortlessly to center stage, the result is the stunningly beautiful �Lush Life�. In fact a feature of the entire project is the way producers Kirk Whalum and John Stoddart have expertly blended the past with the present and this is never better demonstrated than in the contrast between a song first recorded in 1945, the dazzling, Latin tinged �Autumn Serenade�, and �Spend My Life With You� which was a hit for Eric Benet in 1999.

Classics of a different kind come with Whalum�s sensitive handling of Joe�s wonderful �I Wanna Know� and his equally impressive version of Heather Headley�s �I Wish I Wasn�t�. Of course this latter number comes from the pen of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis but the massive surprise packet of the whole set comes with a sensational eight minute thirty two second R & B interpretation of Rodgers & Hart�s �You Are Too Beautiful�. Beginning with Kevin Whalum�s sparkling vocal, and transitioning to a deep soul groove that is totally out of this world, this, if listened to in the company of the one you love, may well need to be handled with care.

Romance Language is scheduled for release on February 14, Valentines Day, and is a must for true romantics everywhere.

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.