Harry Whitaker was born on September 19, 1942 in Pensacola, Florida. He moved to Chicago in 1948, and to Detroit in 1953. He graduated high school and embarked on the road with dexterous bassist Ray McKinney, after two years, he moved to New York. In 1970, he was invited to audition for Roy Ayers, for Ayers' group Ubiquity, Whitaker arranged and performed on the classic "We Live In Brooklyn Baby," he stayed on for four years, recording performing and touring the world with the band.
Whitaker next took on the role, of musical director for Roberta Flack and over the next five years worked on some of Flack's biggest hits, such as "Feel Like Making Love" and "The Closer I Get To You." He also recorded his own album as a leader, originally released in limited edition in 1976 Black Renaissance - Body, Mind and Spirit, (Re-released in 2002 by Ubiquity Records) a classic soul jazz recording featuring spoken word.
"Blues For The Piano Players" may be in a blues format but it is a joyous tune, with great accompaniment from Avital and Aran. Harry Whitaker's piano playing is so melodic with phrasing that flows as smooth as honey. Deep full chords that are full of spirit, enchanting runs that grab at your soul pulling you into the tune, grabbing hold of your attention and entrancing you to listen intently to all of the subtle nuances of a master storey teller. Can a trio have a big sound? The opening track "The Children and the Warlock" has that large sound, epic proportions, a rich melody, catchy, exciting, original, fresh and glorious all come to mind while trying to describe why I like this song so much. It's definitely the melody, the playing is part of it, great drumming, the synergy of the trio - this band plays so well together and that certainly makes for a great sound.
There are slower numbers, "Thoughts" "Steppin' With The Lord" and "I Have To Be Your Lover" tunes with laid back grooves, great melodies and wonderful performances from piano and bass. The drums are always happening, not overbearing, not minimalist, very creative, supportive and filling-in rhythmically and melodically. There are swinging numbers, "Flight of Mind" swings, it also features Avital on a great bass solo and shows Aran to be a brush specialist.
A masterful recording by Harry Whitaker Thoughts Past and Present that features wonderful musicianship, from stirring piano, to tantalizing bass, care of Omer Avital and with fantastic spiritually motivating drumming from Dan Aran.