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Rodney Whitaker

Little Giant | Professors of Jazz | BackStage Pass | WKAR PBS

Born in Detroit, Whitaker attended Wayne State University, and studied with Robert Gladstone, principal bass with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and trumpeter Marcus Belgrave.


He achieved recognition performing with Terence Blanchard's Quintet and then with Roy Hargrove. His own first album Children of the Light was released in 1996.

His score for the film China, directed by Jeff Wray, was released on PBS in 2002.

In 2006, Whitaker was nominated for the Juno Award Traditional Jazz Album of the Year for Let Me Tell You About My Day, his album in collaboration with Phil Dwyerand Alan Jones. He has also been working with the pianist Junko Onishi.

Whitaker is professor of double bass and director of jazz studies at Michigan State University's College of Music. He has presented master classes at such institutions as Duke UniversityHoward UniversityUniversity of IowaUniversity of Michiganthe New School (NY), Lincoln Center, and the Detroit International Jazz Festival, and at the conferences of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). He has also worked with Detroit Symphony Orchestra to develop a jazz education department, and conducts their Civic Jazz Orchestra, as well as being on the faculties of University of Michigan and Juilliard School.

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