MEMPHIS, Tenn — Memphis is steeped in music. All of it derivatives of America's original art form, jazz. Friday, around the globe, musicians, and lovers of jazz celebrated International Jazz Day. Memphis Native and world renowned jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum is excited at those 3 words. Just listen to Whalum blow his sax and you hear his love of jazz.
Talk to him and you hear his love of humanity. You can hear him talk about a lot in his new podcast. That's just one of the many projects keeping him busy, but he took a moment to share with us on this International Jazz day. Whalum explains the essence of jazz.
"What is that, is that jazz? It's improvised. It's musicians sort of like just stretching out on stuff. They're singing, they're playing," Whalum explained.
A life long love affair with the genre has taught him the lessons it provides to us all even children.
"You latch on to their propensity to be musical, maybe be creative then you say 'ok let me teach you how to improvise.'"
The great Nina Simone once said jazz in not just music, it's a way of life, it's a way of being, a way of thinking. Whalum agrees.
"You're sitting there. You're facing a situation in your math class, in your whatever and you're like well I don't know what to do or just in life situations. So you say, 'I here, dang it. I'm going to figure it out.' That's what improvisation is," said Whalum.
His latest album accompanied by a documentary called 'Humanite' was released last year in the middle of the pandemic. It is the result of the Grammy winner's travels to seven other countries where he collaborated with 14 young artists. The product touches on what we all have in common across language, geography, race, religion.
Whalum's new podcast "Humans Being" on the Kudzukian Network is another extension of that conversation with the first episode featuring journalist Jonathan Capehart. With 40 uniquely different podcasts in production Kudzukian founder, Larry Robinson says this is the perfect platform for "Humans Being with Kirk Whalum.
"It allows for us to have the ability to create stories and really completely tell the story. So, now you have context where sometimes in reports in radio interviews, in television interviews and things like that you don't get that context because of that short window or that short amount of time," said Robinson.
The new podcast, like Whalum's musical work offers the world a slice of his hometown Memphis, Tennessee.
"You, I don't think that's coincidence. I think all that ties into the beauty, the richness, the power of this Memphis experience when it sort of filters down into music," said Whalum.