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Music: Hugh Peanuts Whalum

By Mike Breen · January 6th, 2009 · CityBeat Recommends

St. Louis Jazz mainstay and uncle of and inspiration to renowned Smooth Jazz fave Kirk Whalum, “Peanuts” Whalum has been playing music for seven decades and shows no sign of slowing down, even as he enters his eighties this year. The singer/pianist/saxophonist played around his hometown of Memphis in his teens before heading to Central State in Dayton, playing in the school Jazz band and performing at Carnegie Hall with Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Eckstine.

After years of playing with Miles Davis, Nat King Cole and several other legends, Peanuts landed a solo gig, forcing him to develop his piano skills on the quick. Since then, Whalum’s smooth and lounge-y show (and subsequent albums) has been lauded primarily for Whalum’s rich vocals and ace interpretative skills (one Web site put him in the same league as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett when it comes to interpreting others’ material). Whalum comes to the Blue Wisp for shows Friday and Saturday. Cincinnati is an area Whalum knows well — while at Central State, he made trips to the Cincy Jazz hot spots of the late ’40s, including the Cotton Club, The Ritz Ballroom and The Greystone. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

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