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Exploring the Music of Rodney Whitaker – When We Find Ourselves Alone – “Is He Ever Alone?

Rodney Whitaker’s new release When We Find Ourselves Alone his been in my music rotation for a while now and I am enjoying it more and moreWhen We find Ourselves aAlone2 with each listen. After listening to the album several times, I went to his web page to find out a little more amount the Mack Avenue bass player. What I discovered aside from the fact that he has released seven albums as a leader or co-leader, but he has recorded and recorded with a plethora of artist that include:

 Jimmy Heath, Eric Reed, Cyrus Chestnut, Vanessa Rubin, Kathleen Battle, Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Diana Krall, Jon Faddis, Donald Harrison, Terence Blanchard, Rodney Jones, Wycliffe Gordon, Kenny Burrell, Bob James, Benny Golson, Regina Carter, Pat Matheny, Nicholas Payton, Jimmy Cobb, Joshua Redman, Stephon Harris, Johnny O’Neal, Marcus Belgrave, James Carter, Steve Turre, Claudio Roditi, Junko Onishi, Harry Allen, Ronnie Matthews, Chick Corea, Kenny Garrett, Kevin Mahogany, Ingrid Jensen, Barry Harris, Ron Blake, Jeff Clayton, Dana Hall, Gerald Wilson, Sean Jones, Niki Harris, Wessell Anderson, Don Vappie, Johnny O’Neal, Cedar Walton, Renee Rosnes, Randy Brecker, Rickey Woodard, Bobby Shew, Gary Smulyan, Joe LaBarbera, Randy Napolean, Peter Martin, Nnenna Freelon, Donald Byrd, Branford Marsalis, Greg Hutchinson, Carl Allen, Herlin Riley, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Terrell Stafford, Tim Warfield, Bruce Barth, Jon Carl Hendricks, Roy Hargrove, the late greats: Dizzy Gelispie, Mulgrew Miller, Tommy Flanagan, John Lewis, Marian McPartland, Donald Walden, Joe Henderson, Hank Jones, Frank Morgan and Betty ‘Bebop’ Carter Read More


I’m starting to think that the list of jazz artists that he hasn’t played with is shorter than the above!!! Ok so he is one busy musician, but wait he his one of those people, who I am in awe of, you know the ones that work 24/7 . Rodney holds….

… titles of Professor of Jazz Bass and Director of Jazz Studies at Michigan State University where he has built one of the leading jazz degree programs and performing faculty in the United States of America. and is….

….the Artistic Director of the Michigan State University Professors of Jazz, former Artistic Advisor of Jazz @ Wharton Center, Director of Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Civic Jazz Orchestra and a member of the Jazz @ Lincoln Center Orchestra


he has also…..

…. presented numerous master classes across the nation at locations such as Duke University, Howard University, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, Barbican in London, the New School (NY), Lincoln Center, and the Detroit International Jazz Festival. In addition, he is a consultant with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in the development of the jazz education department, and has served on the faculties of University of Michigan and Julliard Institute of Jazz.


Actually, I believe he is an alien, who doesn’t need to sleep or eat!!

But back to the album When We Find Ourselves Alone., of the eleven tracks on the album five are Whitaker compositions, that I believe were  composed in that period that most of us humans reserve for sleep!! The music throughout the album is great. The first thing that I noticed, outside of the bass of course,, was the piano which was great, I discovered that the pianist was Bruce Barth, whose music I haven’t explored yet! With the emphasis on yet, because based on this album his work should certainly be explored!!  The other performers on the album include Antonio Hart on alto and tenor saxophone, and Greg Hutchinson on drums. The few vocals on the album are beautifully provided by Whitaker’s daughter Rockelle Fortin!!

The album is currently No 33 on the JazzWeek Chart and has been as high as No 4!! So Check it Out!!!


Mack Avenue Records
All About Jazz

Here’s the opening track of the album “When the World Falls Away”