Kirk Whalum – The blessed Sax Player

Whalum

Soulful, passionate, stirring…these are the words most often used to describe Kirk’s music. Forged from his Memphis, (TN) gospel roots and his 1980‘s initiation into the thriving Houston, TX nightclub scene, Kirk’s big, rich tenor sound is unmistakably his. The 80’s were highlighted by Kirk’s stepping out of his blossoming sideman role and forming his own band. It was there that Kirk ultimately developed both his “voice” and songwriting in the crucible of the local club scene––especially at a rooftop club called Cody’s. It was also in Houston where jazz pianist Bob James “discovered” him and brought him on tour, which led to five successful albums with Columbia Records, including Cache, Kirk’s first #1 album. As well, Kirk and Bob received a Grammy nomination for their collaboration album, Joined at the Hip. After moving to Los Angeles, Kirk became an in demand session player for top artists like, Barbara Streisand, Al Jarreau, Luther Vandross, Larry Carlton, Quincy Jones and most notably, Whitney Houston, amongst many others. It’s his sax heard on the mega-hit, “I Will Always Love You.” Kirk soon followed that career high point with his phenomenal hit album released on Warner Bros. Records, For You, perhaps the most successful of over 25 solo recordings to date; others include his eclectic Gospel According to Jazz series, (Chapters 1, 2 and 3).

An ordained minister, Kirk has earned his Masters of Art in Religion. It’s in this spirit that he serves his community, frequently performing at nursing homes, schools and missions. There is also his daily fifteen minute podcast, Bible In Your Ear (BIYE), in which he invites you to listen along as he reads through the Bible in a year. In addition to music and ministry, Kirk has a passion to educate young, aspiring musicians and as such he currently serves as Chief Creative Officer of the STAX Music Academy and the STAX Museum of American Soul Music in his hometown of Memphis, TN.

Kirk is the recipient of numerous awards and acknowledgements for his musical excellence including three Dove Award nominations, an NAACP Image Award nomination and has won two Stellar Awards-Gospel music’s highest honor. An eleven time Grammy nominee, Kirk won his first Grammy award for Best Gospel Song (“It’s What I Do”-featuring Lalah Hathaway) alongside life-long friend and gifted writer, Jerry Peters.

His latest release (on Mack Ave. Records) is perhaps his most ambitious to date. On Romance Language Kirk pays homage to the much revered 1963 ballads album, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. Kirk’s release features the brilliant and lush vocals of his brother Kevin. As the original recording is only six songs, Kirk rounds out this album with his romantic interpretations of some modern day ballads such as Brandy’s “Almost Doesn’t Count,” which features the dulcet voice of his 83 year old uncle, Peanuts Whalum.

In addition, Kirk is very proud that Romance Language is the first album produced in LiveAudio, a 3D listening experience for the JAMBOX wireless speaker.

In a career spanning decades, Kirk has a sound that is uniquely his; it is a sound that leaves an indelible imprint on the listener.

Kirk Whalum published with permission of Bettie Grace Miner.

Napa Valley Jazz Getaway

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Single-day tickets went on sale today for the star-studded concerts taking place June 12-15, 2014 as part of the third annual Napa Valley Jazz Getaway, a wine and jazz festival set in scenic California Wine Country. Available at TicketFly (www.TicketFly.com), tickets are priced at $99 apiece except for the June 13show, which cost $129 each and includes entry to an exclusive The GRAMMY® Foundation benefit wine reception and silent auction. A limited number of discount tickets for each concert are available to Napa residents.

Multiday ticket sales for the Napa Valley Jazz Getaway founded and directed by contemporary jazz-R&B instrumentalist Brian Culbertson have been robust with the five-day VIP Package selling out in one week when they went on sale last October. Until now, tickets for the 2014 festival have only been available in four-day Gold Packages and two-day Silver Packages, which are being scooped up voraciously by fans from all over the world that will gather in Napa to enjoy the full schedule of concerts starring A-list contemporary jazz, funk and R&B artists; daily Wine Down at The Westin wine tastings held at the official Getaway host hotel, The Westin Napa Verasa; a Cigar Event offering cigars and a performance by saxophonist Michael Lington; and “Another Long Night Out” Late Night Hangs. Single-day tickets are popular with nearby Bay Area residents as well as Napa locals, the latter of which are eligible to receive a $20 discount per ticket by using an access code provided to local businesses and via a targeted email sent by the Napa/Yountville Chamber of Commerce.

After a pair of sold-out opening night dinner concerts happening simultaneously on June 11, Napa Valley Jazz Getaway will stage four days of concerts with the June 12 & 13 shows taking place at The Lincoln Theater and the June 14 & 15 shows to be held on the majestic grounds of the Jamieson Ranch Vineyards. The Thursday night lineup showcases the Legends of Jazz featuring Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour and Earl Klugh with special guest Eric Marienthal and more. Friday Night Funk Night headlines The Ohio Players and special guest comedian Keenen Ivory Wayans. The weekend concerts move outdoors with Saturday spotlighting Brian Culbertson & Friends, Morris Day & The Time, Average White Band and Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Eric Benét, Mavis Staples, Eric Darius and Jazz in Pink featuring Gail Jhonson, Althea Rene and Karen Briggs fill the marquee on the final day of the 2014 Getaway.

A boundless creative force, showman, multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter responsible for 26 No. 1 hits, Culbertson will release his 14th album, “Another Long Night Out,” on February 25. He will be in Napa on February 27 to perform a short set at a private event for invited tastemakers to celebrate the release of the contemporary jazz record featuring an all-star cast and uncork his new custom-crafted wine, Culbertson Pinot Noir, which he personally blended with Jamieson Ranch Vineyards’ winemaker Nori Nakamura.

Four-day Gold Packages ($499) and two-day Silver Packages ($229) remain available through the Napa Valley Jazz Getaway website (www.NapaValleyJazzGetaway.me).