Kirk WhalumNM: Mr Whalum what does Gospel Jazz mean to you?


 KW: The Gospel is the best news I’ve ever gotten.  I didn’t realize just how vital, crucial and life-saving it was until I got a good look at the depth of my sin.  That wasn’t pretty.  But God’s grace is so beautiful, and it’s sufficient even for MY sin.  Jazz is, in my opinion, one of the most creative and effective ways to convey (deliver) this message about this Person who is indescribable.


NM: How did you get started playing jazz and what lead you to Gospel Jazz?


KW: I started playing R&B first.  As a kid I wanted to play the music that I was hearing on the radio — The Jackson 5, Rufus, The Barkays, Sly… My first involvement with music was at church.  So those two sides were very much the foundation of my musical experience.  As I began to get serious about the saxophone I began private lessons and studied both classical and jazz.  To this day I am pursuing excellence in jazz, following the footsteps of the masters — Arnette Cobb, Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, Coltrane, etc.  If I keep at it, one day I’ll be worthy to carry their instrument cases.


NM: True, True now how does the church look at your music?


KW: There are lots of folks in the church who not only embrace, but lead the way in this innovation of excellence in our art before God.  Then there are others who don’t really see why this is important — in other words, they sincerely believe that the “art” part of it is inconsequential to the Message.  They have a point in one sense.  But I personally believe that a segment of the music (and art) that is devoted to Him and used to glorify Him should have an “other-worldly” or mystical quality to it — something that takes us beyond the “He woke me up this morning” aspects of worship.  We need to be reaching for, for Him in ways that stretch our comprehension of who He (the Indescribable God) is.  Savior, Mastor, Jesus, Friend, Creator, Sustainer… He is so much more than we can convey in one type of music.  And the more we “write” on paper (as in notes and lyrics) the more there is we left out!


NM: last two questions first where do you find inspiration for your music?


KM: I am immediately inspired when I close my eyes and focus on Jesus; who He is, all He’s done for and through me.  His great mercy towards me.  It takes about 30 seconds for the tears to form.  His love is inspiring.


NM: Lastly where do you see Gospel Jazz going?


KM: truly desire to see more and more people, musicians especially, liberated out of what’s expected of us into this world of freedom in touching the Savior, the Great Jazz Musician (He improvised the worlds into existence) so that others in the Body can experience God more fully.  But more than that, this will give us, the Levites, a direct line into the hearts of music and art lovers all over the world who are kept away from Truth because of the cultural “vehicle” that the church has attached.  This is not to blame the church, but to acknowledge the real challenges in translating the glorious truth of the Gospel to a world that, according to 1 Corinthians 1 and 2, would never be able to receive it through the mind.


Thank you Mr. Whalum for that brief Gospel Jazz Moment


Norvell Molex Jr.


The Jazz Suite

Gospel Jazz Podcast

Gospel Jazz Magazine


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