Wild Is the Wind (Slea Head Records KR 236), a new double 45rpm record by vocalist Kari Kirkland, skirts the Diana Krall template musically—she looks the part, too, though with darker hair. I’m sure this will be all over the next audio show, whenever that happens, because it’s musically excellent, features great covers (Steely Dan’s “Do It Again,” Labrinth’s “Jealous,” Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”) and great players (Roy Hargrove, Dean Parks, and others). Plus, it’s well recorded at United Recorders and, oh, Ms. Kirkland can sing, and despite the musical similarities her voice does not sound like Diana Krall’s.
Kari Kirkland’s debut album ‘Wild is the Wind’ was produced and arranged by four-time Grammy©-nominee, pianist, composer, and arranger Shelly Berg. He assembled an impressive cast of players for the recording: legendary guitarist Dean Parks, Kevin Axt (Tierney Sutton) on bass, and drummer Gregg Field (Frank Sinatra), with Berg himself on piano. The roster of musicians also include session percussionist Brian Kilgore, three-time Grammy©-winner John Daversa on trumpet, and two-time Grammy©-winner Roy Hargrove on trumpet and flugelhorn. While the presence of jazz greats such as Berg and Hargrove do establish Wild is the Wind as a jazz vocal album, the selection of songs cross musical boundaries, ranging from Adult Contemporary, pop, and blues, with bits of Latin and cabaret adding spice. Kari’s voice is sultry and sensual, gently finding its place among the at-times ethereal, at times straight-ahead swinging arrangements courtesy of Berg.
Vocalist Kari Kirkland teams up with Kevin Axt/b, Shelly/p, John Daversa/tp, Gregg Field/dr, the late Roy Hargrove/tp, Brian Kilgore/p Dean Parks/g and the guest Budapest Sessions Orchestra for a collection of rich interpretations. She’s folksy on “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” and sassy on a rich “Steam Roller Blues”. Her wistful tones works well with Berg and Hargrove during “Do It Again” and emotive on “Jealous”. A rockish “Break Your Heart” has a salsa flavor and dreamy on “Secret”. Cozy corners.
“Having served as a private chef, flying trapeze artist, and regisseur of enterprising circus shows, Kari Kirkland can rightly be classified as an itinerant creative. But she’s no dabbler, and it’s important to make that distinction. With each stop along her winding road Kirkland has dedicated herself to learning the ropes, and it’s no different with the one pursuit that’s actually been something of a constant in her life: Kirkland’s parents were both working musicians, and the aforementioned career choices have essentially been detours on her walk down that lane. Now, with the release of her debut as a singer, she realizes part of a lasting ambition.”
– Dan Bilawsky
Huge thank you to JazzFM and the Full Circle show for featuring ‘It’s Alright With Me’ last Sunday!
Full Circle is aired on Jazz FM on Sunday mornings at 01:00 GMT across the UK on DAB+ digital radio in stereo, on digital TV and online at http://www.jazzfm.com/player and the Jazz FM app. This week’s show includes an interview with pianist Greg Murphy.
Click below to hear the full broadcast, or you can zip to 00:37:15 to hear my song right away!
As your ears attune to the pin drop purity and transcendent exquisiteness of Kari Kirkland’s soulful yet ethereal vocals on her lush, deeply intimate debut album Wild is the Wind, you may find yourself connecting so intensely to her breathy emotional invitations that you’ll wonder why this is the first time you’re hearing from her. Simple explanation – a wild resume/history that includes being an Ironman triathlete, private chef, flying trapeze and bungee artist and co-owner with her husband Gary of a production company that created elaborate circus shows for corporate events.
While Kari’s previous endeavors may have reflected a wild, Type-A personality, her approach to this glorious set of Songbook standards and offbeat pop classics – guided by her co-producer, four-time Grammy nominated pianist and arranger Shelly Berg – is just the opposite. Subtle. Sly. Sultry. Spacious. Too cool for school. Yet also eminently hipster in her ability to soothe and caress us while at the same time keeping us excited in anticipation for her next turns of phrase.
Material-wise, Kari and Berg choose wisely, from discovering the dreaminess of Steely Dan’s “Do It Again” (with the help of John Daversa’s wafting trumpet strains) and adding a touch of blues to Labrith’s UK hit “Jealous” to a slow burning spin through James Taylor’s tongue in cheek “Steamroller Blues” and a lighthearted romp through Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” so infectious that it scored over 50,000 Spotify streams just a few weeks after its January 2021 release.
Not that a promising artist of Kari’s caliber needs one, but another key selling point to Wild is the Wind is the opportunity to hear the late trumpeter Roy Hargrove add smoky harmonic color to the moody standard “Too Late Now.” A quote from Berg about why he chose to work with Kari sums everything up far more perfectly than any words I could write: “Kari’s voice and style are uniquely her. There is a depth of truth and heart in her singing that is very, very compelling.”
KARI KIRKLAND/Wild is the Wind: “You’ll never mistake this for a gift shop album. Deceptively progressive, there’s a bunch of jazzbos on board, and looks like a jazz vocal set card, but this lady that freely and madly colors outside the lines ain’t your daddy’s thrush. Not an art chick and not a cabaret singer, she shape shifts this cross generational set card of familiar tunes into things you think you never heard before. You really have to have adult ears to appreciate what she’s got going on here, and if you can belly up to that bar, you’ve got it made. Fine stuff.” – Chris Spector, Midwest Records