As can always be expected from the illustrious saxman from Memphis, Kirk Whalum, along with other artists performing under the pseudonym, The Millennium Promise Jazz Project, delivers another very creative blockbuster here with the release of Promises Made. This effort is part of a most promising fundraiser to combat extreme poverty, hunger and disease. Specifically, the proceeds from this album heavy with nostalgia are being channeled to Africans in need of essential survival tools. Now, how many of you did not expect such a humanitarian gesture from one whose spirituality and generous soul would allow him to do no less? Also, for those who didn’t know, Whalum is spelled C-L-A-S-S.
On May 15th, 2008, the Lincoln Center event came off proudly and without a hitch, and the evidence of Whalum’s unwillingness to ever fade into obscurity in any way is presented here on this marvelous, Whalum-style smooth undertaking. The album features classics like "Stand By Me," "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," "People Get Ready," "I’ll Take You There" and "War," among some other delectable hits. As The Millennium Promise Jazz Project, Whalum is joined here by guitarist Earl Klugh, pianist Takana Miyamoto, Take 6 and keyboardist/producer extraordinaire George Duke. Lineups like this simply command attention.
The attraction here is not just Kirk’s ever-effervescent and oft bluesy playing, but the sheer innovativeness with which he approached this recording. It’s as if you are hearing many of these for the very first time. Only one as talented as Whalum can pull this off time and time again with his tell-tale soulful sax and the bevy of formidable gospel-style vocalists. To say that this recording should be a huge success, which probably has already happened, would be one of the biggest understatements of modern time. So it is that the prolific and always uplifting Kirk Whalum presents yet again another to be placed in his "masterpiece" column.