What do Wynton Marsalis, Jon Faddis, Rodney Whitaker, Greg Hutchinson, Bobby Watson, have in common? They have all had Rick Roe guest in their piano chair. Winner of the 1994 Great American Jazz Piano Competition, Rick Roe is a skillful jazz pianist who particularly emulates the styles of some of the great modern jazz pianists such as Theolonius Monk and Bill Evans. Twice a semifinalist in the Thelonius Monk International Jazz Piano Competition (1993 and 1999), he has been a featured performer in the Jacksonville (Florida) Jazz, Savannah (Georgia) Onstage International Arts, Montreaux/Detroit Jazz, Birmingham Jazz, Lansing Jazz, Flint Jazz, and Hawaii Jazz (with Frank Morgan) Festivals.
He has produced and co-produced twelve recordings (CDs) on his own RNR Unknown Records label with original compositions and arranged jazz standards with some of the most accomplished jazz musicians in the world. Such recordings include “The Changeover” (1997), “Monk’s Modern Music” (1995), and “Sphere” (2005).
Mr. Roe has served as an educator/clinician at the University of Arizona, North Texas University, Michigan State University, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the University of Michigan, and the Montreaux/ Detroit Jazz Festival. More artist collaborations include performances with Marcus Belgrave, Donald Walden, Rodney Whitaker, Frank Foster, Andrew Speight, Wycliffe Gordon, Gerald Cleaver, Victor Goines, Louis Smith, Randy Gelispie, Vincent York, Wendall Harrison, Dwight Adams, and many others.
Internationally renowned bassist and Origin Records recording artist, Rodney Whitaker, currently holds the 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 world. He is considered one of the leading performers and teachers of the jazz double bass in the United States. He is also 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 former member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Whitaker received his first national recognition performing with the Harrison/Blanchard Quintet.
Building on his Detroit roots and enormous talent, Whitaker went on to earn an international reputation as one of the world’s finest jazz double bass performer. He completed seven-year tenure as bassist with Wynton Marsalis’ Septet and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. He has toured the world over the last twenty-five years, collaborating and performing with legendary jazz artists such as 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 as well as performing with leading symphony orchestras world-wide. Whitaker has also toured internationally as a featured performer with the Roy Hargrove Quintet. In addition, he has appeared and presented master classes at the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) conferences.
Rodney is one of the hardest working and swinging bass players on the scene and has recorded with great musicians such as Roy Hargrove, Pat Metheny and Wynton Marsalis. Featured on more than 100+ recordings — from film to compact discs — Whitaker’s film scores, China, directed by Jeff Wray, was released on PBS Fall 2002 and Malaria and Malawi, released on PBS Fall 2010. Also, Whitaker has a DVD release featuring Michigan State University’s Jazz Department entitled, “Inside Jazz”. In 2011, he was nominated for an EMMY for the ‘Original Music’ category, “Malawi and Malaria: Fighting to Save the Children” produced by Robert Gould and Sue Carter.
A proven and committed jazz educator, Whitaker has 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.
In 2006, he was nominated for the Juno Award, Canada’s equivalent to the Grammy, for his work on “Let Me Tell You About My Day,” produced by Alma Records. Whitaker collaborated with musicians Phil Dwyer (musician) and Alan Jones on the album, which was nominated for Traditional Jazz Album of the Year.
Now based in East Lansing, Whitaker continues to serve many of the talented in the state of Michigan. His legacy of teaching promises to be distinguished with former students currently performing with jazz greats such as Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Pat Matheny, The Count Basie Orchestra and Stephon Harris.
Whitaker attended Wayne State University, studied with trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, bassists-Stephen Molina, Ralph Armstrong, the late Herbie Williams (trumpeter) and the late Robert Gladstone (bassist).
Brooklyn born drummer Dana Hall has been an important musician on the international music scene since 1992. After completing his education in aerospace engineering at Iowa State University, he received his Bachelor of Music degree from William Paterson College and his Masters degree in composition from DePaul University. He is presently a distinguished Special Trustees Fellow completing his Doctorate in ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago.
The list of exceptional artists that Mr. Hall has performed, toured, and/or recorded with includes Branford Marsalis, Ray Charles, Roy Hargrove, Joshua Redman, Orbert Davis, Horace Silver, Michael Brecker, Nicholas Payton, Kurt Elling, Benny Green, Frank Foster, Betty Carter, Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, Bobby Hutcherson, Wallace Roney, Diana Krall, Renee Rosnes, Clark Terry, the Mingus Big Band, Steve Lacy, Muhal Richard Abrams, Buster Williams, Gary Bartz, Ira Sullivan, Lester Bowie, Slide Hampton, James Moody, Shirley Scott, Joe Williams, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Patricia Barber, Ralph Bowen, Bud Shank, Phil Woods, Von Freeman, Kenny Barron, Maria Schneider, Jackie McLean, Mulgrew Miller, the Woody Herman Orchestra, Joe Henderson, Curtis Fuller, and Oliver Lake, among others. Mr. Hall is a member of the Terell Stafford Quintet and the Music Director of the Chicago Jazz Ensemble. Additionally, he is a former regular member of the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band under the direction of Jon Faddis and has served as an extra in the percussion sections of the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids Symphonies.
Professor Hall is also a clinician and educator. In 2004, Mr. Hall joined the faculty of the University of Illinois AT Urbana-Champaign as an Assistant Professor of Music. He has served as a faculty member at the University of Chicago teaching courses in world music and at Columbia College Chicago, teaching private students. Mr. Hall is a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Band Director’s Academy and Essentially Ellington faculties, both under the directorship of Wynton Marsalis, providing jazz pedagogical resources, mentoring, and practical tools for band directors. Recently, Mr. Hall completed a four-year association with the Ravinia Festival’s Jazz in the Schools Mentoring Program, educating public school students on music fundamentals and their associated jazz applications. In the summer of 2000, Mr. Hall joined the faculty at the Merit School of Music, continuing his mission to assist in bringing quality music education to students in Chicago. Mr. Hall is a member of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz’s Jazz in America Program and the Jazz of Chicago’s Artists Residency Program. In each, he mentors secondary school students in the fundamentals of jazz, Latin, and popular musics. Mr. Hall also maintains a private studio.
Concurrent with his national and international recording and touring projects, Mr. Hall can be seen and heard in Illinois performing and recording with his own groups and as an artist with other ensembles. Mr. Hall uses, endorses, and is artistically supported by Yamaha Drums, Bosphorus Cymbals, and Pro-Mark Drumsticks.