Award Winning Saxophonist Kirk Whalum Announces New Album EPIC COOL

Mack Avenue Music Group

via Mack Avenue Music Group/Artistry Music

For nearly four decades, the Grammy®-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum has helped to define “cool,” whether blazing trails in contemporary jazz or infusing hits by Luther Vandross or Whitney Houston with an extra jolt of soul. His new album raises the bar once again, scaling up the hipness, vitality, soulfulness, and vibes to a monumental level. Pre-save the album here.

While perhaps best known for having performed one of the most listened-to sax solos ever – for Whiney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You” – Whalum continues to push boundaries beyond genre and style. “I’m still on this path trying to do something important,” Whalum insists. “At 65, I still feel very young. I feel like I have a mandate to be the very best version of myself and to push down some more doors.”

That life encompasses more than 25 albums under Whalum’s own name, including a Grammy-nominated collaboration with pianist Bob James; his faith-and-soul melding Gospel According to Jazz series; and a trio of albums with the supergroup BWB, alongside guitarist Norman Brown and trumpeter Rick Braun. That’s in addition to his work alongside everyone from the late Joey DeFrancesco to such legends as Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, and Larry Carlton.

To achieve that goal Whalum partnered with Swiss-Nigerian producer/songwriter Greg Manning, whom he first encountered as a keyboardist with guitarist Jonathan Butler. “He’s European and yet he has an African soul,” Whalum says. “I wanted him to bring his classical training together with his understanding of traditional jazz for this project.”

The eleven tracks on the album span all the touchstones of the artist’s repertoire, kicking off with the funk of “Bah-De-Yah!,” the finger-snapping sultriness of “Pillow Talk,” and the soaring balladry of “Through the Storm” and “You & Sunday Morning.” “Crusaderation” pays tribute to one of Whalum’s key influences, the Jazz Crusaders – Joe Sample, Wayne Henderson and Wilton Felder. Their importance to Whalum is reflected in the very special line-up for the track – the rare convergence of the saxophonist’s musical family, including son Kyle on bass and nephews Kameron on trombone and Kenneth III on tenor. All three bring a solid foundation from the pop world – Kameron tours with Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak, Kenneth is a successful solo artist who has worked with Beyoncé and Kanye West, and Kyle plays in the house bands for The Voice and The Kelly Clarkson Show.

Whalum will bring his Epic Cool nationwide on his upcoming tour following the release.

Tour Dates- More to be Announced:

  • April 6-7 – Berks Jazz Festival – Reading, PA
  • April 12 – Berk Jazz Festival – Reading, PA
  • April 30 – May 14 – Dave Koz and Friends at Sea 2024 – Athens, Greece
  • June 2 – Kafé Kirk – Memphis, TN
  • June 8 – Thornton Winery – Temecula, CA
  • June 21-23 – Blues Alley Club – Washington, DC
  • June 26-27 – Blue Note – Tokyo, Japan
  • July 26-28 – The Jazz Kitchen – Indianapolis, IN
  • August 11 – Long Beach Jazz Festival – Long Beach, CA
  • August 16 – Norfolk Jazz Festival – Norfolk, VA
  • August 21 – Aretha Franklin Amphitheater – Detroit, MI
  • August 23 – Fresh Coast Jazz Festival – Milwaukee, WI
  • August 31 – Park Evans Amphitheater – Cleveland, OH
  • September 12-15 – Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley – Seattle, WA
  • September 27 – Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts – New Orleans, LA
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