Love is a Losing Game (Kirk Whalum feat. Jevetta Steele)


Kirk Whalum on AmazonHa! This headline and song title is eponymous of all I’ve got to say in this post: You love, you lose. Of course, I can already hear the outcry of those objecting to this statement. Alright, alright, alright – by all accounts, we’re supposed to get so much back from loving unconditionally. I’ve heard it all. Fair and fine. Here’s why this doesn’t seem to work in my case and in this particular context of music.

I’ve come across this song for the first time on Bruce Nazarian’s The Digital Guy Radio Show, who himself boasts a rich musical career and history (next to wearing a number of other hats, which you’ll find in the linked wikipedia article). I was instantly taken aback by this tune! The rich harmonies, the mid-tempo, ballad-like groove, the soaring sax lines played by Kirk Whalum and of course the passionate, powerful, yet dynamic and controlled lead vocals of Jevetta Steele – can’t say anything else but ‘wow’! And I remembered, how listening to Anita Baker‘s songs in the mid- to late 80ies had had this effect on me for the very first time: ‘Touching’ or ‘moving’ doesn’t even cut it – they literally captivated me from head to toe, inside and out and had a string in my soul resonate with the words, melody, harmonies and rhythm – this was music! I went to practicing the guitar picking, lines and fill-ins right away and for as long as it took me until I thought I had mastered the feel to them. This was going to be my dream in life – to play this wonderfully rich and soulful music and it best be with authentic players!

A little later in life, after I had been performing with a professionally working band in Switzerland – just to prove a point, this was not exactly, where I saw myself -, some U.S. musicians currently residing in Munich heard me play a chord progression of an Anita Baker song, when checking out the latest gear at a Munich music shop. And they ‘hired’ me to play with them! As a keyboardist – which … I’m not LOL. But they were convinced I’d be able to sit in on the keys and so I did for a while and did my best to sound as ‘keys’ as I possibly could.

But these days are long gone and from what I hear being played around my vicinity, many bands – or rather ‘projects’ as they prefer to call it – do perform some Funk, Jazz and other groove oriented tunes. However, I have never really heard or seen a true R&B band anywhere – not by a long shot. And I’m afraid, most audiences around here don’t even know what to make of Rhythm ‘n Blues in the first place. Heck, I’m pretty sure, there’d even be debate among musicians, what R&B exactly is or isn’t. Most would have it confused with Soul, which is an entirely different page in my (music) book! (I’d say, the difference is some 20 or even 30 years….)

For some reason, I always seem to pick ‘extra hard’. I don’t seem to have a good time with settling for ‘easy’ or even just ‘available’… I think, I remember my ex-wife saying something to the effect of me being a master of unhappiness. Oh well… she might have had a point there.

(Pssst…. any more R&B’ers around? That’d be the Greater Munich area? Drop me a line, if so :))

wesbound, October 2012

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