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The Marksman

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Album Review

In a 1990 article on the then-young hotshots in the straight-ahead jazz world, Time magazine noted that Berklee graduate Mark Whitfield was one of the most remarkable guitarists in the genre. After hearing his smooth, breezy, and silky unamplified stylings on this eclectic debut disc, it would be hard to argue the point. George Benson apparently gets credit for discovering and nurturing this young virtuoso, so it's no surprise that Whitfield's chops are reminiscent of the Benson/Wes Montgomery school of playing. But though it may be unintentional, one can hear a bit of the genius of Stanley Jordan at work here, too. Whitfield may borrow from these masters, but at the same time, he was forging an identity all his own with some powerful and pungent licks and above-average compositions in addition to the few covers. Interestingly, Whitfield's rendition of Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood" is the least remarkable aspect of the album. Meanwhile, the up-tempo tunes like "Little Digi's Strut" are quite stunning. Also of note is fellow "jazz bratpacker" Marcus Roberts' ivory work throughout the album. The Marksman is a bull's-eye that bridges an old-school approach with something very hip.

Biography

Born: 1967 in Syosset, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s

A talented guitarist influenced by George Benson and versatile enough to play straight-ahead jazz or R&B, Mark Whitfield was originally a bassist. At 15 he switched to guitar and soon won a scholarship to Berklee. After graduating from Berklee in 1987, Whitfield temporarily moved to Brooklyn and appeared at many sessions. George Benson suggested he work for Jack McDuff and that association was a big break for Whitfield. He has since recorded...
Full bio
The Marksman, Mark Whitfield
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  • Partial Album
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Hard Bop
  • Released: 11 September 1990

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