Photos by Jacob Blickenstaff and Anthony Pidgeon
A season full of jazz at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts will kick off in November and December with performances by pianist Matthew Whitaker and the Brubeck Brothers Quartet.
“If you could imagine what Ray Charles and Jimmy McGriff looked like at age 13 but played like at age 30, then you will discover Matthew Whitaker,” says Wendy Oxenhorn of the Jazz Foundation of America.
Whitaker began teaching himself how to play the Hammond B3 organ at the age of 9, and he became the youngest artist to be endorsed by Hammond in its 80-plus-year history. He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the 2019 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award for his original song “Emotions.”
Monifa Brown of WBGO jazz radio has said that “to see and hear him play is to know that divine talent exists,” raving about his “innate musical abilities.” Despite his young age, Whitaker has already toured the United States and abroad, performing at Lincoln Center, the Apollo, Carnegie Hall, and the Kennedy Center domestically, as well as international venues in France, Italy, Germany, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland, Portugal, Japan, Spain, and Morocco.
“Matthew is truly an inspiration, and his genuine, joyful playing will lift our spirits,” says Abbey Messmer, director of programming for Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.
Described by All About Jazz as “both relaxed and expressive,” brothers Chris and Dan Brubeck, along with guitarist Mike DeMicco and pianist Chuck Lamb, perform a unique style of “straight-ahead” jazz that reveals their inherent ability to explore odd time signatures while naturally integrating the influences of funk, blues, and world music. The group’s creativity, technique, and improvisation can be heard in their uncompromising music, which reflects their dedication to melody, rhythm, culture, and the spontaneous spirit of jazz.
Chris and Dan Brubeck have been making music together practically their entire lives. Drummer Dan and bassist, trombonist, and composer Chris cut their first record together in 1966. They’ve subsequently played a variety of styles in several different groups, as well as with their father, jazz giant Dave Brubeck.
Other jazz shows at the center this season include Christian McBride’s New Jawn (Feb. 3), Pedrito Martinez and Alfredo Rodriguez Duo (March 3), Preservation Hall Jazz Band (March 7), Glenn Miller Orchestra (March 12), and Joshua Redman 3×3 (May 4).
The Matthew Whitaker performance begins at 8 p.m. Nov. 19 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. 2nd St. The Brubeck Brothers Quartet concert is at 6 p.m. Dec. 18 at the center. Visit scottsdaleperformingarts.org/events or call Scottsdale Arts Guest Services at 480-499-TKTS (8587) for more information.