Kirk Whalum Blog
“Fit To Battle” – I wrote this song with the intention of capturing the raw, rhythmic, dynamic power of the saxophone as an instrument. Thus we do not use the band on this one, only drums and percussion. It’s part New Orleans, part Mississippi cotton field—we should have used a washboard!—part old Pentecostal and part… Arnette Cobb! Arnette was my secondary mentor on the saxophone (I still wear his “music ring” on my right hand). He was a “dean” of the Texas Tenor school of hard-driving, sweat-inducing, mad-swinging saxophone-playing. His legendary solos with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra earned him his own place in the history books.
Who better to feature on this one than my primary mentor, my Uncle Peanuts, and my primary student, my nephew Kenneth, III. I still pinch myself when I hear the three of us go at it together! 80, 50 and 25 years old! We have such a genuine respect for each other. Ken’s already started to make his own way in the industry. Recently touring with Jay-Z, Maxwell, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige and Regina Belle, he will soon release his debut recording, on which he will both sing and play. Awesome huh!
It is both humbling and gratifying to observe the obvious giftings of my nephews, nieces (my brother Kevin has twin girls who are drop-dead gorgeous and sing like angels!), sons and daughters, not all of whom are in music by the way—film, investments, the hotel business, etc. But I think of black people in particular and how we are not able, for the most part, to trace our lineage back very far because of the sad legacy of slavery (where our personal history was stolen from us). But I have to imagine that back on the Continent, there must have been some BAAAAAD musicians, orators and just cool people! I look forward to hugging (and thanking) my ancestors both there and in North America, for being strong enough to weather such a storm so that we could be here to draw from such a well of creativity. God is an awesome God!