Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kirk Whalum - Performs the Babyface Songbook (2005)


Most jazz artists go back more than fifty years when selecting music to record for a "songbook" CD. Cole Porter, Sinatra, Gershwin are all popular choices. However, Whalum dips into the '90s by picking out songs by musician Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, who, in addition to his own work, wrote and produced such '90s acts as Tevin Campbell, Toni Braxton, and TLC. For the most part, this CD works. Babyface's style of smooth R&B music is well-suited to smooth jazz covers.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks: Can We Talk is my pick for top track with guest appearances from Norman Brown and Rick Braun. Other favorites include For The Cool In You and Whip Appeal. Babyface makes a vocal appearance on I Said I Love You. Less successful are covers of Boyz II Men's I'll Make Love to You and Vanessa Williams' Betcha Never.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Whalum went to college in Houston and started his career there, so it was fun to skip the end of a grad class at the University of Houston (sorry, Dr. Lee) and walk across campus to see him on his home turf with many of his friends in the audience. Everyone in attendance at the concert got this CD free on our way out the door. Great evening. During the show, Whalum and his band played a straight-ahead jazz standard (Giant Steps, maybe?), which was a nice change of pace from smooth jazz. He and his group totally nailed the song. At the end of the piece, Whalum remarked, "If someone can't play music like that, they may play smooth music, but it's not jazz music." While this may have been a dig at the current batch of smooth jazz artists, it showed that Whalum can play any type of jazz and knows his jazz history, he just prefers to play smooth jazz. With the money it's made him, who could blame him?

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