Smitty: When you talk about the genre’ great sax players you must include my next guest. One of the keepers of the soulful sax flame for many years, he inspires us once again with a stunning new record called Roundtrip. It is a very cool trip that you must experience when you hear this album. Please welcome Rendezvous recording artist, Kirk Whalum. Hey, man! Welcome to Jazz Monthly.Com.
Kirk Whalum (KW): Hey, Smitty…appreciate the love and what occurs when I take from your words, my friend.
Smitty: Oh, man. Well, the pleasure’s all mine. And hey, I’m loving this new record, Roundtrip.
KW: Thank you, sir. Yeah, this is definitely a—in one sense, it’s a really, really selfish record because I wanted to be able to go back and revisit some of the classic songs that kinda helped me get started and then to venture into some new areas and then end up right where we started.
Smitty: Yeah. Well, right away I loved the opening track, “Courtney,” and I know there’s some serious great personal history with this song.
KW: Absolutely, in fact, for two reasons: one, because it was written for our first daughter and her name is Courtney and she’s 29 now, she’s just wonderful, and she’s given us a beautiful little five-year-old grandson and we’re just in love with him too, but as well, that song represents a whole cadre of songs that we never got a chance to record. Like many artists would say that they’ve got songs that they wanted to record and they never got around to it or for one reason or another it didn’t make the record. That song “Courtney” represents all of those songs for me.
Smitty: Oh, wow, man. Well, that’s really putting it right next to the heart, you know?
KW: Yeah, that’s right.
Smitty: Absolutely. Now, Kirk, just looking back on your career, I mean, you have 17 albums and I can go back to those humble days in Houston when you were gigging at The Roof back in the seventies and Cody’s and just doing your thing at TSU, and I can see why you have Roundtrip stamped on this record because, man, you’ve come full circle in many ways.
KW: That’s so true, Smitty, and I am honored that you remember those days in Houston. In fact, as you said, that song “Courtney” and even “Ruby Ruby Ruby” and “Desperately,” they are songs on this record that represent those days and that’s why I’m excited to share them with the folks, unlike yourself, who weren’t there and like “Oh yeah, Kirk Whalum, he’s a recording artist.” Oh, no, no. Kirk Whalum back then was a student and trying to get something going, I had my band, and so, yeah, these songs represent that era in my career.
Smitty: Yeah, and I truly remember those songs, you know, “The Wave” and…
KW: That’s right.