I have been following Rodney Whitaker since his early days performing at (Montreux) Detroit Jazz Festival. As an avid fan and follower, it is a great thrill for me to collaborate with him on this project. His band consists of the very best players from the jazz cruises, clubs and university jazz departments: Terell Stafford, Tim Warfield, Dana Hall, and rising star Rockelle Fortin.
The tune Common Ground was written in 1995. Social divisiveness was a theme then as it is now. I noticed a trend then as now that ordinary people would much rather share their experiences with others, show interest in other people’s lives and generally display courtesy and consideration in public spaces. Public rancor is largely confined to the political world.
The musical experience brings people even closer together, jazz in particular. As a composer, jazz has always meant freedom of expression to me. If I can write material that stimulates the imagination of the players and allows them to put their own stamp on it, the listeners will appreciate and enjoy it.