With more than two decades
in music, Whitlock is a “musician’s musician” who has performed and
recorded with a wide array of top artists in pop, R&B and jazz. He’s a
much sought after Hammond B3 organist, who also plays piano and
keyboards in addition to producing, writing and arranging. Over a
two-year span, Whitlock was joined in recording studios all over the
U.S. by a few friends to work on an eclectic project called Sketchin’.
Along with Michael Brecker, Vinnie Colaiuta, Anthony Jackson, Scott
Henderson, Othello Molineaux, Pat Kelley, and Cliff Almond, Whitlock
recorded enough material to populate two albums. Sketchin’ was released
nationally last fall on the artist’s own Sketchin’ Records label.
Sketchin’ 2 is scheduled for release this spring.
About the albums, legendary saxophonist and eleven-time Grammy winner
Michael Brecker said, “It was a joy to be a part of the Rob Whitlock
project. In addition to his being a fantastic player/composer, Rob has a
knack for bringing out the best in the musicians with whom he plays.
This was fun.”
Born in West Virginia, Whitlock grew up in South Florida where he
started playing the Hammond B3 at the age of eight. His father, Bob, was
a respected local jazz guitarist who encouraged his son to perform
whenever his professional musician friends came to the family house.
Through his father’s record collection, he was introduced to artists
like Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery and Charlie Parker. On his own, he
discovered the music of Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Chick Corea, Miles
Davis and Jaco Pastorius. While he was a teenager, Whitlock learned how
to make a living gigging on the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami scene by playing
keyboards and bass. When he was 17, he met Pastorius, who used to spend
time learning from Bob Whitlock. The circle of learning perpetuated
itself as Pastorius went on to become one of Rob’s greatest musical
After living in Washington, DC for three years, Whitlock moved to San
Diego when he was 25. He believes that living on both coasts helped
shape and lends color to his music. Whitlock landed gigs touring with
the Jazz Crusaders, A.J. Croce, the Dazz Band and Fattburger. Over the
years, he’s recorded and/or performed with Joe Sample, Joe Williams,
Rita Coolidge, Kathie Lee Gifford, Tom Scott, Eddie Harris, Max Bennett,
Miki Howard, Grant Geismann, Jeff Kashiwa, and, of course, Pastorius.
While he was playing, producing, writing and arranging for others,
Whitlock was always writing material that he hoped to record himself one
day when the time was right. He composed or collaborated on four new
songs for Sketchin’ 2 while producing and arranging the entire album.
The second disc is a bit edgier and has a “retro jazz” feel. Musically,
Whitlock challenges listeners by presenting compositions culled from
traditional and contemporary jazz, blues, and fusion. Sometimes his
keyboard artistry leads and other times he takes a back seat to allow a
sax, a guitar or a vocalist to pilot the track. The production is warm
and organic because Whitlock feels that performing these songs live is
what it’s all about. “We were really careful not to overproduce (the
tracks),” Whitlock explained. “While the music is diverse, I tried to
make sure that it was accessible and palatable for the average
Whitlock enjoys merging his music with art. Sketchin’ contains images of
Whitlock that amazingly were created on an Etch A Sketch. Jaco’s son,
Julius Pastorius, did the album artwork for Sketchin’ 2, which is
comprised of a series of intricate sketches of the musicians captured in
the recording studio. The concept was for the illustrations to tell a
story of the music and the musicians involved like album artwork often
did in the days before music videos. However, to please the video
inclined, both albums are enhanced CDs that contain still photos and
sketches from the recording sessions set to music in a video format.
Recently Whitlock finished production on The Circle for
Amber Whtilock (
Rob's wife )and this is her second
album, which will be unveiled this summer. In the meantime, he’s looking
forward to taking his own band on the road to perform music from the Sketchin’ series live. “These collections of music are a labor of love:
love of music, of fellow musicians and their gifts, and for the music
enthusiast whom I hope will enjoy this album,” said Whitlock. For an
ambitious and gifted recording artist who is open to wherever his
musical sketches may lead, here’s no telling which direction his next
project may go.
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