A cover album of some of the greatest songs from the ’60s and ’70s recorded by a few of today’s greatest jazz stars? And it all goes toward a good cause? It wouldn’t mean much, of course, if Promises Made were bland instrumental music with no bite. But there’s plenty to dig into with this CD. That may have something to do with its two producers, smooth jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum and straight-ahead pianist Takana Miyamoto. Never have mainstream and contemporary jazz mingled so well.
Highlights are around every corner. Miyamoto’s impressionistic piano is especially impressive on “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which includes new, original vocal refrains and Whalum’s shining tenor solos. David Sanchez’s sax and Marcus Printup’s trumpet collectively add to magic on the groovy and lounge-like “The Fool on the Hill.” Earl Klugh’s distinctive classical guitar sounds add a touch of playfulness to a sometimes frenzied “A Day in the Life,” probably exactly how the Beatles would have wanted it.
Among the many talented artists represented in the Millennium Promise Jazz Project are Kevin Turner on guitar, Lizz Wright on vocals and George Duke on Fender Rhodes. Proceeds from the CD benefit the Millennium Promise’s goal of ending extreme poverty in Africa by 2015.