About the Event
The 2019 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award winner for his original song “Emotions,” pianist Matthew Whitaker has been described by Monifa Brown of WBGO jazz radio as “music.” “To see and hear him play is to know that divine talent exists” Brown said. “Beyond his innate musical abilities is a sheer joy and passion to create music.” Despite his young age, Whitaker has already toured the United States and abroad, performing at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall, and Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City; SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco; the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC; The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in Florida; and at international venues in France, Italy, Germany, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland, Portugal, Japan, Spain, and Morocco.
Whitaker began teaching himself how to play the Hammond B3 organ at the age of 9, and he became the youngest artist to be endorsed by Hammond in its 80-plus-year history. Whitaker has received the Outstanding Soloist Award from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Charles Mingus High School Competition & Festival and the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival. He was also recognized by the Harlem International Film Festival, which named him Most Remarkable Young Person on Screen. “If you could imagine what Ray Charles and Jimmy McGriff looked like at age 13 but played like at age 30, then you will discover Matthew Whitaker” (Wendy Oxenhorn, Jazz Foundation of American).