Detroit is gearing up (they’re good at that in Detroit) for the 2013 edition of its massive free jazz festival over the Labor Day weekend. A central performer at the festival and a major figure in the city’s jazz community is the 45-year-old bassist Rodney Whitaker, internationally known as a player and as an educator of new generations of musicians. He is the head of jazz studies at Michigan State University. In today’s Detroit Free Press, its music editor, Mark Stryker, writes:
Whitaker has imported the Detroit model of tradition, mentorship and community into the university. “Each one, teach one,” Whitaker said, repeating a favorite saying by the late pianist Kenny Cox, one of the many Detroit veterans who guided Whitaker’s jazz education. Like another key mentor, the legendary Detroit trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, Whitaker has older MSU students coaching less experienced peers.
“What we’re really doing is teaching leadership through jazz,” Whitaker said. “Our goal is to raise 1,000 people, who are gonna raise 1,000 people, who are gonna raise 1,000 people who are all going to go out there and change the world. In order to make them better performers, we have to educate the whole person.”
To read all of Stryker’s profile of Whitaker as musician, teacher and family man—and to see a video of the bassist in action, go here. A sidebar linked to the column lists Whitaker’s appearances at the festival. For a look at the festival lineup go here.
Then start packing.