Jazz prodigy Matthew Whitaker‘s new album “Connections” charts the 20-year-old musician’s journey and his maturation as an artist. Comprising 16 songs, the album features special guests Jon Batiste, Derrick Hodge, Regina Carter, Alvester Garnett, Otis Brown III, Jonathan Blake, Endea Owens and Nêgah Santos.
The release marks the third album from Whitaker, who was named an ALL ARTS artist-in-residence earlier this year in June. The music included on “Connections” spans compositions written before and during the pandemic, with the songs recorded primarily in early March of 2021.
“’Connections’ is really about this idea of community, of musicians and family and everyone really, coming back together after being separated for so long,” Whitaker said in a statement. “It’s about how grateful I am for the connections we have with each other musically and spiritually as well. More than my other albums, this one has music that was created in the studio, improv moments that happened live.”
In addition to music, the album also includes snippets of Whitaker’s speaking voice, drawn from interviews and speeches. Layered into the tracks, the spoken word passages give further insight into the musical identity of the New Jersey-born artist and the odds that he overcame.
“If ‘Connections’ has an overall message, I think one is ‘Why Not?’ Why can’t I do this, or that? Who says this is not possible?” Whitaker explained in the statement. “The other message of ‘Connections’ is, this is who I am, now, at this moment when the world is coming back together.”
For insight into the making of the album, check out the video below.
Top Image: Matthew Whitaker. Photo: Rahil Ashruff.