Today as a scrolled down the names of the jazz musicians who were born of October 6th, among the many names that I didn’t recognize was Mark Whitfield. Since he was holding a guitar I figured he was well worth checking out and boy am I glad I did! Here’s some background on Mark….from Wikipedia:
Mark Whitfield (born 6 October 1966 in Lindenhurst, New York) is an American hard bop and soul-jazz guitarist born in Lindenhurst, New York, probably better known for his recordings as bandleader for both the Verve and Warner Bros. Recordsrecord labels. He has worked with Jack McDuff, Jimmy Smith, Courtney Pine and Nicholas Payton, Chris Botti, among others. Mark Whitfield graduated from Boston’s Berklee College of Music, the institute for the study of Jazz and modern American music, in the Spring of 1987 having studied composition and arranging as well as all styles of guitar performance. Upon graduation, he returned to his native New York to embark on a career as a jazz guitarist that afforded him the opportunity to collaborate with many artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Clark Terry, Jimmy Smith, Carmen McRae, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Jack McDuff, Betty Carter, Shirley Horn, Ray Charles, Gladys Knight, Burt Bacharach, Joe Williams,Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Stanley Turrentine and his greatest teacher and mentor George Benson.
Along the way, the New York Times dubbed Whitfield “The Best Young Guitarist in the Business” and in September 1990 Warner Bros. released his solo debut, “The Marksman”. The success of this release has led to a recording career that has produced 14 solo projects to date and collaborative efforts with important artists in recent years: Sting, D’Angelo, Mary J. Blige,Chaka Khan, John Mayer, Jill Scott, Roy Hargrove, Diana Krall, Lauryn Hill, Sy Smith and Chris Botti.
In September 2005, Mark Whitfield accepted the invitation to join the faculty at his alma mater, teaming up with Joe Lovano,Ralph Peterson, Danilo Perez and Terri Lyne Carrington as “Artists in Residence” at the Berklee School.
Ok so those are some pretty big names that Mr Whitfield has played with through his career!! Now I know that I’m going to need to check out Mark’s discography more fully. When I visited his website, I saw that Mark’s début album The Marksman is included on a list of ten must hear albums at PureGuitar.com:Jazz Guitar Essentials: Ten Must-Hear Albums. Once again Mark is keeping great company!!
Now a question that may have crossed your mind is, how can this guy be a fan of jazz guitar and not know Mark Whitfield? It’s one that I even asked myself, the best answer that I can come up with is that during the 90s, when Mark was rising as a young guitarist, I was just a little busy raising four children, the youngest of which was born in 1990! It’s no excuse, just a good reason!!
Well, I’m glad I found Mark’s music this morning and after watching this video where Mark displays his knowledge of those who have gone before him and discusses his many influences I’m a fan already without even hearing a full album – watching him play “Freddie Freeloader” in Wes’ style is enough for me!!! So Happy Birthday Mark!!