September 04, 2014

ASC’s “The Essentials” spotlights swing with Kirk Whalum on Sept. 26

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kirk whalum wAcclaimed jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum will star in “The Essentials: Swing,” the second installment of an original series presented by the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center.

Hosted by UAB Artist-in-Residence Eric Essix, “The Essentials” is a new, innovative series devoted to honoring music’s rich history and sound with a journey through jazz. This series combines equal parts education and entertainment in one stage show that spotlights an internationally acclaimed jazz artist alongside Birmingham’s talented jazz musicians.

The show is set for 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, in the Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $39.50. Call 205-975-2787 or visit

The first half of the evening will be dedicated to surveying the exciting period of swing’s history, the music and artists, led by Essix with Whalum alongside the UAB Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of UAB Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies and Trumpet Steve Roberts, DMA. The UAB Jazz Ensemble recently won the top prize at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame competition. Vocalist Ashley Roberts, who has performed with nationally renowned Birmingham band St. Paul and the Broken Bones, will join the group for the performance.

The show is set for 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, in the Alys Stephens Center. Tickets are $39.50. Call 975-2787 or visit

The second set will feature Whalum, whose soulful, passionate, rich tenor sound is forged from his Memphis gospel roots. An 11-time Grammy Award nominee, he won his first Grammy for Best Gospel Song, “It’s What I Do,” featuring Lalah Hathaway. Whalum has a passion to educate young, aspiring musicians, and he is chief creative officer of the STAX Music Academy and the STAX Museum of American Soul Music in his hometown.

Whalum’s ASC residency will include a 10 a.m. Meet the Artist school show for Birmingham schoolchildren, complete with curriculum guides and a master class/open rehearsal for music students. Contact ArtPlay for more information.