"They Say It's Wonderful," the first track on this marvelous new record from Kirk Whalum, opens cleverly with a sample (or a fresh recording made to sound like a sample, complete with the scratchy LP and old AM radio speaker sound effects), of McCoy Tyner's piano at the top of the classic John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman cut of the same tune from their eponymous 1963 record that serves as Whalum's inspiration. But following that clip, nothing further is lifted directly from Coltrane and Hartman except the spirit of excellence in musicianship and the mellow, romantic mood.
Whereas Coltrane and Hartman--the latter not well known at the time but nonetheless a brilliant vocalist--set out to make a recording of pop[ular] tunes in a jazz form (trio plus tenor sax and vocals), the Whalums instead are making a smooth jazz record on a core of what became jazz standards, then adding some of their own new music. Because great songs are great songs, both versions work very well. But don't think Kirk Whalum was trying to remake the original; this is a modern recording with its own fresh and eloquent voice.