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Jazz - Released June 23, 2006 | Columbia

Bob James gets the credit for discovering the passionate, soulful sax of Whalum in 1984. But you just know that a talent this size would have emerged on its own sooner or later. Between then and this release at the end of the decade, Whalum established himself as a major force on the contemporary scene, playing alongside the likes of James, Luther Vandross, Al Jarreau, and Larry Carlton, and releasing two powerful solo discs, 1985's Floppy Disk and 1988's And You Know That. But this third effort was his strongest outing to date, displaying a versatility which ranges from spiritual ("The Promise") to Brazilian (the tropical flavored "Desperately") to straight ahead rock & roll (the Larry Carlton tribute "LC's Back," which features the fancy licks of the guitarist himself). As producer, James gives his protégé's horn some fanciful grooves to work in and out of, most notably on the catchy, pop-like "Out a Hand." James also has a good time soloing on "Desperately" and the bass oriented "Don't Even Look." There are a lot of possible favorites in this collection, but the Carlton tribute is the one that hooks you from the very beginning. With this album, Whalum delivered in spades upon his early promise. ~ Jonathan Widran
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Jazz - Released March 12, 2002 | Columbia - Legacy

The Best of Kirk Whalum collects a bevy of tracks off smooth jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum's five Columbia albums. Despite the fact that it was these albums that made Whalum a star, they were inconsistent, and it is nice to have his most potent material organized onto one disc. Included are songs from the concert staple "Kyle's Smile" and the soulful "Glow" to mid-'90s material like "X-Factor" and "Peaceful Hideaway." Since most of Whalum's fans probably already have the albums these tracks are culled from, it seems a bit lacking that no previously unreleased material was included. Nonetheless, this is an essential compilation for any smooth jazz fan. ~ Matt Collar
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Jazz - Released May 22, 1995 | Columbia

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Jazz - Released September 21, 1992 | Columbia

Kirk Whalum is a fine saxophonist, but most of the music on Caché is quiet storm drivel, especially the numerous vocal tracks. Caché features guest appearances by Nile Rodgers, Brenda Russell, Gerald Albright, Angela Bofill, Wilton Felder, and Bob James, so there is no shortage of great talent on the album. However, most of the music is ordinary and, even with stellar talent, ordinary music will always be ordinary. And listeners certainly don't need another instrumental version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." ~ Tim Griggs
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Jazz - Released February 16, 1988 | Columbia

Light pop/fusion though Whalum's a very good player. ~ Ron Wynn
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Comedy/Other - Released May 17, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

Kirk Whalum assembled a wide array of musical talent to perform 14 updated arrangements on this superior collection of hymns, Christmas carols, and holiday folk music. While preserving the style of polyphonic modality (as in the ancient forms of caroling), Whalum updates the traditional carol "Little Drummer Boy" to "Little 'Ghetto' Drummer Boy" by using the two-part doo wop-flavored harmony of Kyle Whalum and Kevin Whalum atop a very hip beatbox rhythm loop to symmetrically structure a new setting. Other outstanding arrangements include the opening track, "The First Noel," which features Whalum playing its improvised melody on tenor saxophone, the reggae backbeat added to "Do You Hear (What I Hear)," and the soulful lead vocals of John Stoddart on his original composition "Love from a Star." Whalum's original composition, "Christmas Message," is a sensitive duet that features the saxophonist's soprano voice beautifully accompanied by the contemporary Christian instrumentalist Phil Keaggy on acoustic guitar. This holiday collection is commensurate with Whalum's previous inspirational and spirited instrumental offering, Hymns in the Garden, in that it offers a wonderful visitation to classic songs with a very different approach and touch. ~ Paula Edelstein