Life and career
Whitfield was born in Lindenhurst, New York. He is probably better known for his recordings as bandleader for both the Verve and Warner Bros. Records record labels. He has worked with Jack McDuff, Jimmy Smith, Courtney Pine and Nicholas Payton, Chris Botti, among others. Mark Whitfield graduated from Boston's Berklee College of Music, the institute for the study of Jazz and modern American music, in the Spring of 1987 having studied composition and arranging as well as all styles of guitar performance. Upon graduation, he returned to his native New York to embark on a career as a jazz guitarist that afforded him the opportunity to collaborate with many artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Clark Terry, Jimmy Smith, Carmen McRae, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Jack McDuff, Betty Carter, Shirley Horn, Ray Charles, Gladys Knight, Burt Bacharach, Joe Williams, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Stanley Turrentine and his greatest teacher and mentor George Benson.
Along the way, the New York Times dubbed Whitfield "The Best Young Guitarist in the Business" and in September 1990 Warner Bros. released his solo debut, "The Marksman". The success of this release has led to a recording career that has produced 14 solo projects to date and collaborative efforts with important artists in recent years: Sting, D'Angelo, Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, John Mayer, Jill Scott, Roy Hargrove, Diana Krall, Lauryn Hill, Sy Smith and Chris Botti.
In September 2005, Mark Whitfield accepted the invitation to join the faculty at his alma mater, teaming up with Joe Lovano, Ralph Peterson, Danilo Perez and Terri Lyne Carrington as "Artists in Residence" at the Berklee School.
While maintaining a teaching schedule that requires his presence on campus 1 day a week for 14 weeks/per semester, and a touring schedule that includes at least 100 concert dates/per year with trumpeter Chris Botti, Whitfield still manages to remain active as a solo artist and 2008-2009 will see the release of his latest solo effort; a Stevie Wonder tribute entitled "Songs Of Wonder" and 2 collaborative projects with longtime friends Christian McBride and Nicholas Payton.
On December 21, 2012 Mark played live with the Dave Matthews Band on two of their songs, "Mercy" and "Crash Into Me", at a concert at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York. He recently also reprised his accompaniment on two occasions during the 2013 summer tour again with "Mercy" (June 8, 2013; Hartford,CT) and with "If Only" and "Crash Into Me" (July 13, 2013; Hershey, PA).
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With Jimmy Smith
- Damn! (Verve, 1995)
With Cedar Walton
- Roots (Astor Place, 1997)