Sax legend Kirk Whalum is as I already stated in another review a wanderer between the two worlds of smooth jazz and Gospel music. With his new album Humanité he breaks through this scheme.

Humanité is an album, whose music is formed in mosaic shape by the musicians and their involved personalities they have brought in to the recording process. Among many others the following musicians are participating: Japanese jazz pianist Keiko Matsui, the young bass phenomenon Barry Likumahuwa, gifted singer/songwriter Grace Sahertian and global pop star Indonesian singer/actor Afgansyah Reza, known to many as Afgan, vocalist/guitarist Zahara, one of South Africa’s biggest stars, Kasiva Mutwa of Nairobi, and the veteran UK jazz vocalist Liane Carroll.

Curtis Mayfield's song Move On Up has lost none of its radiance since its inception in the '70s. Especially in the last months you can meet his song in ever new variations. Kirk Whalum goes his own way with his interpretation which is settled near a jazzy attitude in a Weather Report way. Singer Brendan Reilly is sensationally excellent.

Everybody Oughta Be Free follows the political guideline deepened by singer Robyn Troop. Nevertheless Kirk Whalum is in the center with soprano and tenor saxophones. With Don't Get Me Wrong (I’m Grateful) Kirk dives into South African realms. He works with Mi Casa, a house trio or band based in Johannesburg, South Africa and consisting of three members, Dr. Duda (producer) and pianist, J'Something (vocalist and guitarist), and Mo-T (trumpeter). A stroke of luck in music history comparable to Paul Simon's Graceland.

Wake up Everybody is a song by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, successfully covered by John Legend and The Roots. Musically on the same level is the rendition presented by Afgan. A voice to remember. Wildflower was a hit by the band member of Skylark, late guitarist Doug Edwards. Together with lead vocalist Liane Carroll Kirk Whalum reveals the beauty of the melody again.

Get Your Wings Up featuring singer Andrea Lisa reminds me a little of the music of Fifth Dimension. Now I Know presents South African singer Bulelwa Mkutukana, best known by her stage name Zahara. She sings in her mother language Xhosa, a Nguni Bantu language. With her wonderful harmonies she is able to convince. SJL is one of the rare instrumental of this album. Pianist Keiko Matsui and Kirk create a vibrant interplay based on the groove by bassist Mark Jaimes and percussionist Kasiva Mutua.

Korogocho (Korogocho is one of the largest slum neighborhoods of Kenya's capital Nairobi)  is an extraordinary jazz fusion piece, which presents next to a free improvising Kirk on soprano saxophone two bassists at once, Marcus Miller and Barry Likumahuwa. Blow 4U seamlessly links up with old funk times. It is worth mentioning that Kirk also raises his voice in addition to his tenor saxophone.

Kwetu means in Suaheli us or home. The piece incorporates the Ghetto Classic Orchestra. The project "Ghetto Classics", sponsored by the foundation "Art of Music", aims to give children and teenagers the opportunity to take responsibility for their lives and develop other perspectives than collecting rubbish. The tune was written by famous Kenyan pianist Aaron Rimbui, who also performs the piano.

Indonesian singer and songwriter Grace Sahertian is the featured interpret of the song Peace. We Shall Overcome You showcases Nigerian-French vocal personality Asa, which means in Yoruba culture. The tune is a Pop song with Ska rhythm. Her newest album is called Lucid. From the East to the West showcases Japanese Gospel formation Heavenese. The piece becomes a strong local coloring due to the instruments used like Koto, Taiko, Shakuhachi and Shamisen.

Humanité considers itself as an intercultural and international link, where music is the common denominator of international understanding. Kirk Whalum's aim was to portray the diversity and colorfulness of the musical world and at the same time the will to join together.








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Album Information

Title: Humanité
Artist: Kirk Whalum
Year: 2019
Genre: Soul Jazz
Label: Mack Avenue Records


1 Move on Up (feat. Brendan Reilly) 3:56
2 Everybody Oughta Be Free (feat. Robyn Troop) 5:06
3 Don't Get Me Wrong (I’m Grateful) [feat. Mi Casa] 4:42
4 Wake up Everybody (feat. Afgan) 4:54
5 Wildflower (feat. Liane Carroll) 5:02
6 Get Your Wings Up (feat. Andrea Lisa) 5:30
7 Now I Know (feat. Zahara) 4:06
8 SJL (feat. Keiko Matsui) 5:05
9 Korogocho (feat. Marcus Miller & Barry Likumahuwa) 5:56
10 Blow 4U 4:40
11 Kwetu (feat. Ghetto Classics & Aaron Rimbui) 5:32
12 Peace (feat. Grace Sahertian) 4:46
13 We Shall Overcome You (feat. Asa) 3:56
14 From the East to the West (feat. Heavenese) 4:31

Further Reviews:

The Gospel According To Jazz III

Everything Is Everything

Romance Language