MOMENT TO MOMENT - Remembering HARRY WHITAKER


Just yesterday morning I found out about the passing of Mr. Harry Whitaker. For those who are not acquainted with him, Harry was a brilliant piano player, arranger and composer. Coincidentally as some of my dearest friends, he was born on September 19 1942 in Pensacola, Florida and grew up in Detroit, influenced by the town's fertile music scene.

Harry was part of that super creative post-bitches-brew generation that took spiritual jazz to another level, giving birth to outstanding sessions of oniric music. In New York he became part of Roy Ayers' legendary band "Ubiquity" contributing with outstanding compositions such as "We Live In Brooklyn, Baby!". He later collaborated with R&B singer Roberta Flack serving as musical director for almost a decade and countless are his collaborations with other artists.

As a leader Harry produced several recordings recorded over the years - since the mid 70's - that were released by different labels at different times. One of his most acclaimed albums "Black Renaissance" was issued a few years ago by the record label Ubiquity Records. The session included jazz legends like Dave Schnitter, Woody Shaw, Billy Hart, Buster Williams just to name a few.




For an extensive view on Harry's life and releases you can read this very accurate article: http://www.waxpoetics.com/2010/11/rip-harry-whitaker/ and his own website: http://www.harrywhitaker.com/



My personal experience with Harry goes very deep and is one of the most important relationships I've had in my life. I feel very fortunate to have spent so many hours with him being trained on a musical and human level. I always think of Harry as one of my mentors and a true friend during my New York days. Harry and I got close around the year 2000 when he would sub for piano player Ehud Asherie at our regular gig at Rockefeller Center. I loved playing with him as the unexpected would always happen. During that time I'd go visit him at his pad. Sometimes he would cook for me - he was an excellent cook - and we'd talk and listen to music of all kinds for countless hours. I already knew how blessed I was to be experiencing those moments. I especially loved Harry's sensitivity - he was a philosopher of his own kind - and his sense of humor. He would always preach about his "Moment To Moment" approach to music and to life. He always loved to talk about women in a very respectful and insightful way, and that's why - I assume, he had a lot of female friends. He used to play regularly at Smalls and Fat Cat, but I especially enjoyed hearing him at Arturo's Pizzeria where he 'd play for 2 or 3 days a week. There was a special energy during those nights, the place packed with customers, musicians and singers that would line up to sit in. And Harry made sure everybody got a chance to play! Through him I got to meet many amazing musicians I later got to perform with. Every time somebody asks me what my influences are, Harry's name instantly pops up in my head and that's how meaningful his presence in my life has been. R.I.P. Mr. Harry Whitaker, love you forever!

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