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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.

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December 08, 2018

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

December 06, 2017

Jazz this week: Freddy Cole & Harry Allen, Spanish Harlem Orchestra,...

December 10, 2015

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

March 06, 2015

Kirk Whalum, The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter IV (2-Disc, 19-Song...

November 29, 2012

Jazz This Week: John Pizzarelli, Kirk Whalum, Marcus Roberts, Four in...

November 06, 2012

Kirk Whalum Performing "Gospel According to Jazz Christmas" on...

September 13, 2012

Jazz This Week: Bobby Broom and Deep Blue Organ Trio, Bonerama, Kirk...

June 08, 2012

Jazz This Week: Byron Stripling's Tribute to Louis Armstrong; Kirk...

June 02, 2012

Kirk Whalum to Demonstrate at Saxquest, Perform at the Sheldon

December 06, 2011

Kirk Whalum Duets with His Brother, Kevin, to Remake a Classic Album in...

February 06, 2012

Whalum to Romance the Web

September 02, 2010

Kirk Whalum's Donny Hathaway Tribute out Now: Everything is Everything

August 27, 2010

Stax Museum of American Soul Music Hosts Kirk Whalum Release Party

April 20, 2010

Jazz Great Kirk Whalum Named CEO of Stax Museum & Stax Music Academy in...

March 15, 2010

Special Kirk Whalum Event at Stax Museum March 16th!

July 30, 2009

Jazz This Week: Sax for Stax with Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum, All...

July 19, 2009

STLJN Saturday Video Showcase: "Sax for Stax" with Gerald Albright and...

June 19, 2009

Stax Music Academy Salutes Motown with Help of Mentor Kirk Whalum and...

May 29, 2009

Jazz This Week: "Jazz Cavalcade" with Kirk Whalum, Chicago Afrobeat...

April 22, 2009

History Museum to Host Kind of Blue Tribute, "Jazz Cavalcade" with Kirk...

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