Kirk’s spiritual infusion is sublime. “My relationship with the sages, with Jesus, the radicals…it’s in those moments that are my greatest inspiration. When I’m most prolific, if that’s the word, I’m in communion with Him and most times in a subliminal kind of way,” Kirk reflects.“Sonny Rollins said, ‘You can’t think and improvise at the same time.’ That means you can’t be plugged into your brain and play your finest music. You have to be plugged-in spiritually to the source of creativity. If my iPhone is plugged into the charging case, I’m good for a minute. If I’m plugged into the wall, I’m good infinitely. He has the ability to give me one note that affects people so profoundly that there is no doubt in my mind who is the source for it.” Yet, Kirk is no dogmatist. Like his music, his being reaches beyond boundaries. “I do not claim exclusivity to the process of improvisation. For example, if you’re a Buddhist, I know you have access through mediation.” Kirk refers to himself alternately as the most-liberal conservative you’ll ever meet and the most-conservative liberal you’ll ever meet. In Austin, where he lived for a time, Kirk fits right in. “I was a jogger for many years before I blew my back out (so now I walk), but I love Town Lake. My wife and I would go and hit it,” he reminisces. “I remember the Fajita Man who would be on Sixth Street, and to this day, those are the best fajitas I’ve had. Tex-Mex, the Latino culture, Austin has a very Bohemian feel and community spirit. I think there’s an ethic with the young people there, with South By Southwest, that is very holistic and authentic, and those are the things I love about Austin.” In 2005, Kirk recorded the BABYFACE SONGBOOK, recapturing R&B legend Babyface’s best songs for the prior 15 years, along with smooth jazz artists trumpeter Rick Braun, guitarist Norman Brown, soprano saxophonist Dave Koz, and guitarist Chuck Loeb. Kirk began recording THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JAZZ in 1998. The first chapter premiered that year, the second chapter in 2002, the third chapter in 2010, and he recently completed the fourth chapter, recording live in Brooklyn, New York. Joining him on the fourth chapter are singer Shelea; GRAMMY-winning guitarist Norman Brown; Rick Braun; Kenneth T. Whalum, III; John Stoddart; Gerald Veasley; and Doc Gibbs. Beginning with both his grandmothers, Kirk comes from a long line of musicians. His nephew Kenneth Whalum, III, has a Number One album on iCloud. His nephew Kameron Whalum played trombone for Bruno Mars’ halftime performance at the 2014 Superbowl. Kirk’s son Kyle is a singer/songwriter who also plays bass or the country band TENNESSEE KINGS. But Kirk shares the music beyond his family, beyond his fans. Again breaking boundaries, he devotes time to STAX Music Academy in Memphis, where he is the Artist in Residence. One aspect of the program is to help children with musical gifts develop them to the point where they can enter programs like the industry-standard Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts. “Every town has kids who want to play music, and every town has the potential to develop that into opportunities where kids who are attracted to something can be passionate about it and it can be a driving success of their life,” Kirk says. “Though Memphis is kind of the stepchild of Tennessee, where Nashville has the Mojo going on right now, Memphis has always had a tremendous amount of talent, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, too many names to fit in one sentence. At Stax, we’re able to use that as fertilizer for what’s next. We call them, The Next Generation of Soul Communicators, and we are nurturing this crop of great musicians, whether classical, jazz, pop, Broadway, country, or whatever.” The opportunity to make the fun exponential with Kirk at the Austin Jazz Festival is one you don’t want to miss! You can also connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.