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Kirk Whalum

Johannesburg is a long way from Kirk’s hometown of Memphis, TN. Having grown up a "pastor’s kid," it’s not surprising to learn that Kirk’s warm, melodic sound was birthed in the Baptist church. Born into a musical family, Kirk first expressed his interest in music on the drums, switching to saxophone in Jr. High School when he was "impressed" with the shininess of the sax. Kirk began playing local functions and clubs while still in high school. A music scholarship brought him to Texas Southern University in Houston, beginning his road to musical maturity. "I became enthralled by the "Texas Tenor" sound and was able to spend many years gleaning from Arnett Cobb one of the fathers of that "big" Texas sound."

Having built a steady following as a sideman in some of Houston’s top jazz clubs, 1980 saw Kirk stepping out in faith and starting his own band. "Houston was such a cool music town in the early ‘80s. There were so many live music venues then..everybody came through Houston. I have memories of hanging out with Sonny Stitt and Rollins.. I was like a sponge—just sitting there with these giants and absorbing everything they threw my way." It worked. His musical reputation as well as his local following grew. Soon Kirk became "the" opening act for jazz shows that came to Houston and in 1983 he caught the ear of jazz pianist Bob James, who was so impressed with the young Whalum that two weeks later Kirk found himself in New York soloing on Bob’s album, Bob James 12. Kirk became a member of his touring band and eventually snagged a recording deal with Columbia Records.

Kirk released five records while signed to Columbia, the first in 1985, Floppy Disk, introduced the still frequently requested tune, "Kyle’s Smiles" written for Kirk’s yet-to-be-born, son Kyle. But it was the 1995 release of Cache that put Kirk on the charts. That CD went to #1 and remained there for five weeks. Other releases on that label include And You Know That! The Promise and In This Life.

In 1987 Kirk received a serendipitous phone call from jazz guitarist Larry Carlton. Larry had heard this warm, passionate sax on the radio in Los Angeles and traced it to its creator, Kirk. "Larry had never heard of me, didn’t know who I was or where I was, but managed to track me down in Houston.

Next thing I know, I’m headed to LA to record with him. It was during that recording that I decided to move to Los Angeles." Kirk soon became an "in demand" session player. The late 80’s and early 90’s saw Kirk recording and performing with Nancy Wilson, Al Jarreau, Luther Vandross, Barbara Streisand, Quincy Jones, and others. There were movie soundtrack recordings including; Boys in the Hood, Grand Canyon, The Prince of Tides and unforgettably, Whitney Houston’s 1993 release, The Bodyguard.

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5
Album Review

Kirk Whalum: Humanité

Read "Humanité" reviewed by Chris Mosey


The saxophone solo on Whitney Houston's “I Will Always Love You" was the work of Kirk Whalum. He played too at the memorial concert for African American astronaut Ronald McNair, killed when the space shuttle Challenger blew up during take-off in January 1986. He's no great shakes as a vocalist but Humanité features guest appearances in this department by the likes of Brendan Reilly, Robyn Troop, Mi Casa, Afgan, Liane Carroll, Andrea Lisa, Zahara and Keiko Matsui. ...

9
Live Review

Christmas with Kirk Whalum and Friends at the Halton Theater

Read "Christmas with Kirk Whalum and Friends at the Halton Theater" reviewed by K. Shackelford


Kirk Whalum's Sixth Annual A Gospel According to Jazz Christmas Tour Halton Theater Charlotte, NC December 15, 2017 It is a special experience to watch musicians who have a deep musical and personal relationship perform together. These relationships arouse a performance synergy that produce musical conversations with depth. Attendees of Grammy Award winner Kirk Whalum's Sixth Annual “A Gospel According to Jazz Christmas" tour, were able to witness such an experience at ...

102
Album Review

Kirk Whalum: Romance Language

Read "Romance Language" reviewed by Larry Taylor


Romance Language is very appropriate for Valentine's Day--the perfect background for a romantic evening. Tenor saxophonist Kirk Whalum has teamed up with his brother, vocalist Kevin Whalum, on this recreation of the classic John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (Impulse!, 1963).Moreover, throughout this daunting task, the brothers succeed in brushing a smooth jazz veneer on the great ballads celebrated in the historic original release. The Whalums' effort follows vocalist Kurt Elling's tribute album, Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings ...

218
Album Review

Kirk Whalum: The Gospel According to Jazz

Read "The Gospel According to Jazz" reviewed by T. S. Varlack


True crossover artists have the uncanny ability to bring together the audiences of often very different musical tastes and backgrounds together to learn, appreciate and relish in themselves, each other and the experience itself. Whalum's The Gospel According to Jazz is one such experience. The superb sax man combines with an all star cast to take Jazz back home to church. The ultra versatile Whalum excels yet again combining the best of two worlds as he and friends skillfully work ...

109
Album Review

Kirk Whalum: The Gospel According to Jazz

Read "The Gospel According to Jazz" reviewed by T. S. Varlack


True crossover artists have the uncanny ability to bring together the audiences of often very different musical tastes and backgrounds together to learn, appreciate and relish in themselves, each other and the experience itself. Whalum's The Gospel According to Jazz is one such experience. The superb sax man combines with an all star cast to take Jazz back home to church. The ultra versatile Whalum excels yet again combining the best of two worlds as he and friends skillfully work ...

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Video / DVD

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Kirk Whalum's "Gospel According to Jazz"

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Kirk Whalum's "Gospel According to Jazz"

Source: St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman

This week, let's take a look at some videos featuring saxophonist Kirk Whalum, who's bringing the seventh annual edition of his “Gospel According to Jazz Christmas" show to St. Louis next Friday, December 14 at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church. The show, a spinoff from Whalum's series of “Gospel According to Jazz" albums that began back in 1998, each year features several guest stars, with the 2018 lineup including percussionist and vocalist Sheila E. plus singers Lynn Mabry, John ...

Performance / Tour

Jazz this week: Freddy Cole & Harry Allen, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Kirk Whalum, Chris Corsano & Darin Gray, and more

Jazz this week: Freddy Cole & Harry Allen, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Kirk Whalum, Chris Corsano & Darin Gray, and more

Source: St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman

This week's calendar of jazz and creative music in St. Louis features lots more holiday-themed programming, with Christmas shows from two touring headliners and several local performers, plus at least a few shows that may not contain any seasonal music. Let's go to the highlights... Wednesday, December 6 Singer and pianist Freddy Cole and his frequent collaborator/guest star, tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, make their return for the first of four nights at Jazz at the Bistro. The brother of the ...

1

Performance / Tour

Jazz this week: Holiday shows from Kirk Whalum, Jim Manley, and more

Jazz this week: Holiday shows from Kirk Whalum, Jim Manley, and more

Source: St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman

This week's schedule of jazz and creative music in St. Louis is highlighted by a lot of holiday-themed performances and several tributes marking Frank Sinatra's centenary, but there's also traditional jazz and swing, an evening of solo free improvisations, and much more. Let's go to the highlights... Wednesday, December 9 The Route 66 Jazz Orchestra plays a Christmas concert at the Ozark Theatre, and funk quartet The Service will take the stage for the first of two nights at Jazz ...

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Recording

Kirk Whalum, The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter IV (2-Disc, 19-Song CD & DVD) - Available March 24

Kirk Whalum, The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter IV (2-Disc, 19-Song CD & DVD) - Available March 24

Source: Alex Hill

Inspired By Nelson Mandela, President Obama, Curtis Mayfield, John Coltrane, Paul McCartney And Others Grammy winner Saxophonist Kirk Whalum has a calling that words can’t explain. For the last five years Kirk has been spreading the ‘message’ through his acclaimed series The Gospel According To Jazz, Chapters I-III. Now, he’s preparing to release (two-disc, 19-song CD and a feature-length DVD) on March 24, 2015, which is unparalleled growth of the evolution of the GATJ series into the upcoming “docu-musical’ saluting ...

Performance / Tour

Jazz This Week: John Pizzarelli, Kirk Whalum, Marcus Roberts, Four in One, and More

Jazz This Week: John Pizzarelli, Kirk Whalum, Marcus Roberts, Four in One, and More

Source: St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman

It's a busy weekend for jazz and creative music in St. Louis, and time is short, so let's skip the introduction and go straight to the highlights... Tonight, guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli opens a four-night engagement at Jazz at the Bistro. A longtime local favorite thanks to numerous previous appearances in St. Louis, Pizzarelli currently is on tour promoting both a book (the “musical memoir" World On A String) and a new album, Double Exposure. The album features Pizzarelli ...

Performance / Tour

Kirk Whalum Performing "Gospel According to Jazz Christmas" on Saturday, December 1 at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church

Kirk Whalum Performing "Gospel According to Jazz Christmas" on Saturday, December 1 at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church

Source: St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman

Saxophonist Kirk Whalum (pictured) will perform a “Gospel According to Jazz Christmas" concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 1 at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church, 5515 Doctor Martin Luther King Dr. Whalum, a popular smooth jazz and R&B performer and the nephew of St. Louis pianist, saxophonist and singer Hugh “Peanuts" Whalum, first launched the “Gospel According to Jazz" concept in 2002 with an album of the same name. His 2010 release The Gospel According to Jazz Chapter III included ...

Festival

Jazz This Week: Bobby Broom and Deep Blue Organ Trio, Bonerama, Kirk Whalum, Spoke, Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival, St. Louis Jazz Club Picnic and More

Jazz This Week: Bobby Broom and Deep Blue Organ Trio, Bonerama, Kirk Whalum, Spoke, Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival, St. Louis Jazz Club Picnic and More

Source: St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman

It's shaping up to be a busy weekend for live jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with several touring musicians and bands in town, plus some noteworthy free events that should appeal to those looking for some budget-friendly entertainment. Let's go to the highlights... On Thursday night, Chicago guitarist Bobby Broom, best known as a longtime sideman to saxophonist Sonny Rollins, and his Deep Blue Organ Trio will be in town for a one-nighter at Robbie's House of Jazz. ...

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Performance / Tour

Jazz This Week: Byron Stripling's Tribute to Louis Armstrong; Kirk Whalum Plays Keilwerth; Free Outdoor Jazz Concerts; and More

Jazz This Week: Byron Stripling's Tribute to Louis Armstrong; Kirk Whalum Plays Keilwerth; Free Outdoor Jazz Concerts; and More

Source: St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman

Though the official start of summer still is a couple of weeks off, the summer season of free outdoor concerts around St. Louis already is well underway. This time of year also usually brings some visitors to StLJN who find the site by searching for “free jazz concerts in the park" or something similar, as well as a few emails from people asking where those free outdoor jazz concerts can be found. Well, the short answer to that question is, ...

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Performance / Tour

Kirk Whalum to Demonstrate at Saxquest, Perform at the Sheldon

Kirk Whalum to Demonstrate at Saxquest, Perform at the Sheldon

Source: St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman

Saxophonist Kirk Whalum (pictured) is coming to St. Louis later this month to demonstrate a new line of saxophones, and again in September to perform in a fundraising concert. On Sunday, June 10, Whalum will appear at Saxquest, 2114 Cherokee St, for “A Taste of Keilwerth," demonstrating and performing on the manufacturer's latest models of saxophones. The free event will take place from 2:00 pm to 6:00 p.m., with Whalum playing with a full rhythm section every hour on the ...

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Recording

Kirk Whalum Duets with His Brother, Kevin, to Remake a Classic Album in a "Romance Language" of Their Own

Kirk Whalum Duets with His Brother, Kevin, to Remake a Classic Album in a "Romance Language" of Their Own

Source: Great Scott P.R.oductions

Grammy winning saxophonists reimaged take on the Coltrane/Hartman collaboration will be released on Valentines Day Memphis, TN: Most artists would be daunted at the thought of remaking a classic work of art made by legends, but not Grammy winner Kirk Whalum. The multidimensional saxophonist adeptly steps into the role of John Coltrane and tapped his brother, vocalist Kevin Whalum, to fill the shoes of Johnny Hartman on an unabashedly romantic collection of duets originally recorded in 1963 by the seminal ...

Jarez
saxophone
Roy Futaba
saxophone, tenor
Andre Cavor
saxophone
Bill Hauser
saxophone, tenor
Nikos Koulouris
saxophone
CHYKE MARTINS
saxophone
Andre
saxophone
B. Thompson
multi-instrumentalist
Randy Resnick
guitar, electric

Photos

Concerts

Jun 21 Fri
Jun 21 Fri
Jun 22 Sat
Jun 22 Sat
Jun 23 Sun
Jun 23 Sun

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Time Traveler

Origin Records
2021

buy

Humanité

Mack Avenue Records
2019

buy

Romance Language

Rendezvous
2012

buy

Everything Is...

Inner Gun
2010

buy

Time Traveler

From: Time Traveler
By Kirk Whalum

Spend My Life With You

From: Romance Language
By Kirk Whalum

Videos

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