A Debut CD Release Worth Remembering
|Outta The Box Now Available at www.matthewwhitaker.net|
Such an amazing evening! Thanks to everyone that came out to the 'OUTTA THE BOX' CD release celebration!!! To Rutgers University Institute of Jazz Studies for hosting the event... you guys are awesome! And to the great musicians that accompanied me. -Matthew Whitaker
|Matthew's Debut CD Release|
Yes, Yes, Yes!! Awesome Matthew Whitaker! I agree, you are certainly out of the Box! This 16 years old musical genius is no doubt a "organ and piano prodigy" of the century. On Friday, May 19, 2017, hosted by Rutgers University Institute of Jazz Studies, Matthew Whitaker debuted his free CD release celebration that was so worth enjoying and reviewing! It was indeed "a debut to remember!"
Before I go there, many have asked who is Matthew Whitaker? Matthew is a resident of Hackensack, New Jersey and truly a gifted musician. His desire to play music began at the age of 3 years old when his grandfather gave him a small Yamaha keyboard. At the age of 9 years, Matthew began to teach himself how to play the Hammond B3 organ. At 13 years, Matthew became the youngest artist endorsed by Hammond Organ in its 81 year history. He was also honored to be named a Yamaha Artist at just 15 years old, making him the youngest pianist to join another elite group of musicians! Whew..."Look at God!"
|Matthew Age 3|
He has been a guest artist for numerous gala events including the Jazz Foundation of America and Helen Keller International. He has performed with Ray Chew, Christian McBride, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Rhoda Scott, Jon Batiste, Cory Henry, Marc Cary, Arturo O’Farrill, James Carter, Roy Ayers, D.D. Jackson, Wayne Brady; Jazz Mafia Symphony; Ozomatli and The New York Pops Orchestra and with Hamiet Bluiett and his Bio-Electric Ensemble. Matthew can also be found playing the organ or the drums during worship service at New Hope Baptist Church of Hackensack, New Jersey, his home church.
It was amazing to see him in living color as he has certainly written several original compositions. His artistic influences are composers/musicians Dr Lonnie Smith, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Rhoda Scott, Stevie Wonder, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Ahmad Jamal, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Chick Corea, Jon Batiste, Cory Henry, Marc Cary, D.D. Jackson, Chopin, Bach; drummers Otis Brown III, Otis Brown Jr, Roy Haynes, T.S. Monk, Herlin Riley and Johnathan Blake.
|Matthew and his band jamming at the his Debut CD Release|
The audience and I love him so... Matthew plays the keyboard with such skill as though he was born to it for such a time as this. Surely a talent of pure gold. A servant of God who has received it. The audience participation was to say the least astounding. All seemed to adore and enjoy alongside the extraordinary band members with Matthew: Matt Oestreicher - Guitar, Juliius Tolentino - Alto Sax, Mike Lee - Tenor Sax, Peter Lin - Trombone, Ian Kenselaar - Acoustic & Electric Bass, Otis Brown III - Drummer.
I undoubtedly relished in the sounds of the saxophones and trumpets mixed and blended well with the ivory keys, so much that it reminded me of a moment, once upon a time when my big brother played the saxophone in the school band and the crowd roared. I would look up from the audience and be super proud of him. But, then again just about everything my big bro put his hands to do prospered.
Further, when later asked of Matthew, how does it feel to be outta of the box? He graciously replied: "It feels great to have my first album released. Outta The Box means two things. One is it's my first album and second, the songs I chose to record are not your normal standards that most people record on their first album. My album includes 6 of my original compositions and arrangements and the other 4 are my arrangements of songs by either my mentors or favorites".
There is "no inspiration behind this project. I was asked if I wanted to record an album and I said yes. I knew I love to listen and play instruments that made different sounds when I was little and I was able to remember what I heard and play what I heard back on a piano or keyboard. I know that I have a gift because a lot of other kids can't do that and I know my gift comes from God" is how he began believing in his own work and talent." That there is a good lesson to learn: "believe in yourself and know that God has given every boy and girl a God-given gift and talent."
|Moses, Matthew and May Whitaker|
And, as a Mom of a special needs child, my first reaction to my son's medical diagnosis was mild case of denial and slight hopelessness; with that, I decided to ask Mr. Moses and Mrs. May Whitaker, the Wonderful Parents of Matthew how did they initially feel upon the initial doctor's report, now that it has passed? I'm grateful they kindly responded, "We were concerned when the doctors told us that Matthew had less than 50% chance of surviving and they gave us a list of physical conditions that he possibly could have if he did survived. We told the doctors to bring out the electronics and we will send up our prayers and let God do his work. Our Pastor was there with us and we did a lot of praying. Needless to say, they prayed a lot and trusted God and so did I. "We knew that whatever happened, it was God's will" is how they coped with Matthew's condition. Without question, Mr. and Mrs. Whitaker are feeling "thankful and blessed" today! Now that's Faith by understanding, for "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen".
Matthew's play list for the evening (song titles) included, Set 1 Matt's Blues (album), Mas Que Nada (album), More Today Than Yesterday, Move, Blues Walk and Take A Break (album), Set 2 Parisian Thoroughfare, Pistachio (album), Got A Match, Groovin Blues, Until Next Time (album) and As. As it was an incredible night.
|A recent gift from Ellen DeGeneres and Shutterfly|
Moreover, what more can one say about Matthew Whitaker and his Debut CD Release Celebration that has not be stated? Well... I believe Mr. and Mrs. Dozier said it all: "Phenomenal... it was more than you could ever imagine or think. It's beyond expectations. It leaves you wanting more" and "he's so cute", chimed in Mrs. Dozier.
Concurred, the first set was truly an experience to remember: from laughter, big cheers, saxophone and trumpet sounds, "Blues Walking", Matthew snapping the band in, being very aware of his surroundings; to a nice and great turn out and a very entertaining evening, as well as a lively audience. And the Doziers seemed to have known Matthew since the days of Clements Place, Newark, NJ.
Matthew's debut album "Outta The Box" is now available for purchase from his website at www.matthewwhitaker.net. Click and order your copies today! #MatthewWhitakerOuttaTheBox
Big thank you to Matthew Whitaker, especially for spending generous amount of time with my son and all during the break. Thank you to Mr. Moses Whitaker and Mrs. May Whitaker for allowing me the honored pleasure to interview, review and Blog. And to all the inspired readers, thank you and watch out for the next exciting, upcoming, Published Blog!
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