Rodney Whitaker – Doubling Down on Jazz


Double bassist, composer, and educator Rodney Whitaker is an outstanding addition to Jazz Port Townsend in 2013.

A Detroit native, Rodney grew up in the city soaking in the sounds of jazz and classical music and working with the finest musicians in the city.  While other musicians have made their home in the coastal scenes of New York and Los Angeles, Whitaker continues to reside in Detroit, where he seeks musical inspiration and the comfort of family life. “The world has gotten to be a very small place,” he says in Detroit Jazz Monthly. “You can live anywhere and still be in touch with the world.”

Building on his Detroit roots and enormous talent, Whitaker has earned an international reputation as one of the world’s finest jazz double bass performers.

He completed a seven-year tenure as bassist with the Wynton Marsalis’ Sextet, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and has toured the world over the last twenty-six years, collaborating with legendary  jazz artists such as Dianne Reeves, Hank Jones, Mulgrew Miller, Junko Onishi, Diana Krall, Bradford Marsalis, Bob James, Roy Hargrove, Terence Blanchard, Chick Corea, and leading symphony orchestras across the world.

Devoted to creative personal statement rather than preservation, his music points to a future yielding new voices from the works of the great jazz founders. Rodney’s work is featured on more than 100 recordings – from film to compact discs. Recently, he has been moving into film work with scores for, China, directed by Jeff Wray, and Malawi and Malaria: Fighting to Save the Children, both released on PBS.  He was nominated for an EMMY in the Original Music category in 2011 for the latter recording.

He is a full professor of jazz double bass and director of jazz studies at Michigan State University where he has built one of the leading jazz degree granting programs offering both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Jazz Performance.