Berklee Summer Concert SeriesMark Whitfield Jr. Quartet
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Mark Whitfield Jr. was born in Brooklyn. The son of two musicians, his early years were filled with music and he began playing the drums at an unusually early age. At the age of 2, Whitfield made his first concert appearance at the Varsity Theater at Louisiana State University as a guest drummer with his father, guitarist Mark Whitfield and legendary clarinetist Alvin Batiste. The story of his prodigious talent began to spread as his musical abilities continued to develop and at age 4 he appeared with his father's quartet on the Good Morning America 1994 Thanksgiving Day broadcast. The performance was so successful that it led to several subsequent TV appearances, including a CNN lifestyle piece, a full feature with Dr. Billy Taylor for his CBS Sunday Morning jazz segment, and a follow-up appearance on the Good Morning America 1995 Thanksgiving Day broadcast with his dad's group.
In 2001, Mark Jr. and his younger brother Davis returned to the New York area to live with their father and attend school in Jersey City. Whitfield continued to perform with his father's group, including a performance at the Iridium in New York as part of the JVC Jazz Festival and occasional appearances at Smoke, another popular jazz club in New York, and performed regularly with three other talented teenagers as part of the Stephen Chaplin Quartet. Since the summer of 2004, they have performed at the prestigious Newport Festival in Rhode Island and appeared as the opening act for Peter Cincotti, Chris Botti, and many others. Their debut CD, Just among Brothers, is a favorite among local jazz fans.
As a junior in high school, just a couple weeks after his 16th birthday, Whitfield was the first participant in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program under 18 years old. For his performance at Jazz Ahead the following June Whitfield was invited to participate in Ravinia at the Steans Institute for the Arts, under the instruction of Nathan Davis, David Baker, Rufus Reid, and James Moody.
That same summer, Whitfield attended the Berklee Five-Week Summer Performance Program, where he was rewarded a full-tuition scholarship. Since coming to Berklee, he has worked with jazz greats such as Joe Lovano, Terri Lyne Carrington, Hal Crook, Ralph Peterson, Darren Barrett, and Dave Santoro. He is also a member of the Roy Guzman Quintet, which played at the Newport, Duke Ellington, and Monterey jazz festivals representing Berklee. Since then, Whitfield has gone on to be a member of the inaugural class of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute and perform at other jazz festivals around the world, such as the Vitoria Jazz Festival and Summertime Jazz Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia.