Tim Whitmer On Learning From Jazz Greats | KCUR

Tim Whitmer On Learning From Jazz Greats

Nov 29, 2013

Jazz pianist Tim Whitmer and his band, KC Express, specialize in Kansas City swing.
Credit courtest of the artist

Jazz pianist and bandleader Tim Whitmer has gained a reputation for building on jazz traditions, as well as performing original compositions. Whitmer is a mainstay at jazz clubs, but he also plays in local churches.

Whitmer spoke to Chuck Haddix, who hosts the KCUR music program, The Fish Fry on Friday and Saturday nights.

Interview Highlights: Tim Whitmer

On merging the sacred and the secular

"One of the real turning points for me...was actually when I was at the UMKC Conservatory, and through our good buddy, George Salisbury, I got to meet Mary Lou Williams.

Mary Lou Williams at the time was doing a lot of sacred music, and that really turned me on to the amazing possibilities of doing jazz in the church setting."

On shaking hands with Mary Lou Williams

"She was a two-fisted piano player, and she competed with the all-time greats, and when you shook her hand, you knew you had been somewhere."

On recording Kansas City with Speedy Huggins

"We were up real late...we were going to record with Speedy and the session went long. And about 11:30 p.m., 12 a.m., he fell asleep, and about 2 a.m., it was time to record...I woke Speedy up, I said, 'Speedy, you feel like you're up for this song?' He said, 'Timmy, let's go at it.'...One take Speedy Huggins."

Listen to the extended interview with Tim Whitmer here (just click on Hour 2).