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'The Sax Loft': Grammy-award-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum partners with fellow musicians for virtual 'woodshed'

“Virtuosity doesn’t just happen,” Whalum said. “It comes from your elders showing you the way. It comes from you being in a little tiny room called a woodshed.”

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — World-renowned saxophonist and Memphis-native Kirk Whalum is all about access.

In all his travel, tours and accomplishment, he is learned the importance of community.

That is why he and two other saxophonists have created The Sax Loft—an instructional and virtual space aimed to promote comfort, creativity and community.

“When we share what we’ve been given or what we’ve garnered over all these years, man, there’s no better feeling,” the Grammy-award winning songwriter and saxophonist said. 

Sharing is what Whalum, as well as fellow saxophonists Jeff Coff and Tia Fuller, are all about.

That is why they created The Sax Loft.

“The three of us did a tutorial [web]site that’s more accessible where … people who just want to learn how to play the saxophone can have this place—The Sax Loft," Whalum said. "Our motto is 'Let’s hang.'”

It is a motto that holds dear for Whalum because it was his uncle who sparked his love for the saxophone.

“He played that saxophone and I swear angels sang," Whalum said. "I had never heard anything like it. It changed my life. I went, 'that’s what I want to do.'”

That is the feeling Whalum hopes others gain from The Sax Loft.

“The hang is about access," Whalum said. "The three of us—Jeff Coffin, Tia Fuller, and myself—are saying to anybody who wants to learn, ‘Here we are,’” Whalum said.

The musicians provide tutorials and "live hangouts" so that others can ask questions and perfect techniques.

“It will be informed by our years of experience falling on our faces, working out very difficult things—slowing them down, stretching them out, breaking them into little pieces and eventually coming up with something we call virtuosity,” Whalum said. “Virtuosity doesn’t just happen. It comes from your elders showing you the way. It comes from you being in a little tiny room called a woodshed.”

In Whalum’s woodshed, music mystifies division.

“I believe that God is able to use music to break up the fallowed ground of our resistance to love—our resistance to community,” Whalum said.

He also has a special project he is bringing home to Memphis.

Later this year, Whalum will release live recordings from the Crosstown Concourse for his series entitled “Kafé Kirk.”

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