Harry Whitaker / Sept 19, 1942 - Nov 17, 2010

Here's a nod to the underknown pianist Harry Whitaker, on his day of birth. Harry was more of a behind-the-scenes guy, best known for his work with Roy Ayers' Ubiquity (he composed the classic "We Live In Brooklyn Baby") and Roberta Flack (during her peak years).

From Pensacola FL, he started playing piano at 5. His family moved later to Detroit, and he got his career started there with local gigs as a teenager. In 1960 he moved to NYC. He played with Slide Hampton in '65 before taking to playing on the road in various bands. He joined Ayers in '70 and was part of Roy's most creative phase.

He worked with Flack, Lloyd Price, Eugene McDaniel, Blood Sweat & Tears, Stephanie Mills and others. His rare groove classic, Black Renaissance, came out in Japan in '76 on the Baystate label and was a heavy "spiritual jazz" classic, with free jazz and Latin and funk inspirations (Azar Lawrence, Woody Shaw and Billy Hart were in the band). His career blended pop, jazz, funk, R&B and gospel, and he spent much of his later years as a regular on the NYC jazz scene. He passed after a heart attack in 2010. 

Tagged: Celebrate Icons, classic albums, Harry Whitaker, jazz, piano, Roy Ayers, soul!, soul/funk

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