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“All In” With Mark Whitfield

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In this exclusive JGT video podcast, Bob Bakert talks with guitarist Mark Whitfield about the legendary musicians he has played with, and much more.

Mark Whitfield’s musical credentials are stratospheric and beyond. He has toured and performed with so many jazz luminaries including two of my all-time favorites, George Benson and Chris Botti. And really that is not what separates him from others. What separates him for me is that when Mark performs he is literally “ALL IN”…!  The energy he brings to his performances are ‘second to none’.  He commits to every note with every fiber of his being with the drive of a fighter stepping into the ring.  We are so proud to bring this musical powerhouse to our cover… Ladies and Gentlemen… Mark Whitfield…!!!

JGT: You hold a degree from Berklee.  You were awarded not one but two scholarships, one for guitar and one for bass. Many attend… but not everyone completes their degrees.  What would you say have been the benefits of not only attending but completing your degree at Berklee?

MW: In 1983 I enrolled at Berklee at 16 years old after graduating early from high school. I didn’t have access back then to the wealth of information now available to students via the internet so I was truly starting my journey through jazz education from the beginning. So many students stay until they reach a certain proficiency level and then go on to start their careers. Completing my four-year degree program gave me the time I needed to take full advantage of all the College’s resources.


JGT: You have a signature Marchione guitar and a signature D’Angelico that you designed coming soon.  What role do you feel equipment (guitars, amps) has in your tone/playing – does equipment matter?

MW: Once I developed my ability to produce a tone from the guitar as opposed to just playing the sound of a particular guitar I was then able to get “my sound” from any instrument. Still, playing a great instrument has always helped take my sound to a higher level… none higher than my Marchione 16” archtop. In my opinion, Stephen Marchione makes the best guitars on the planet, hands down! The Mark Whitfield Signature model for  D’Angelico was designed to give me the same deep tone quality and consistency in a smaller body and at a more affordable price. I think guitarists will really love this instrument! 

Mark Whitfield with his Red Marchione

JGT: What do you feel are the chief attributes you bring to any musical scenario and what advice do you give to young musicians who are starting their careers?

MW: Supporting another artist’s creative vision is about bringing their music to life through their eyes, not mine. I always start by recognizing that the music already sounds great without me so I can focus on enhancing the soundscape without getting in the way. As a young sideman, you will often find yourself playing in situations where the guitar parts are already established. Always respect the music by truly learning what’s been played & playing it with integrity & enthusiasm before you attempt to make it your own. 


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