Hello. My name is Calvin Whittaker, originally from Chicago, now residing in Calumet City. If you haven't guessed from the photo, I'm a bassist, locally known as "The Ambassador of Funk". I chose that moniker, because I feel that as a musician, and as a bassist in particular, it's my job to bring the funk to the masses. In addition to my own project, which I've recently released, I'm an on-call mainstay with a couple of other bands, and also serving as the music director for a local church in Chicago.
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Calvin P. Whittaker had always known, even from childhood, that he'd be involved in music somehow, though he initially thought he would wind up a singer. He loved to sing, and cites Michael Jackson as his first real musical influence.
Upon enrollment at Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Calvin immediately got caught up in the excitement of joining the school's chorus program. However, later on in his freshman year, his love for singing began to take a back seat to his desire to play an instrument. Upon recognizing this newfound desire, his mother recommended he take piano lessons, but while listening to some records in his music collection, Calvin heard a sound that he fell in love with- the simple but funky bass line to Gwen McRae's "Funky Sensation". Soon after, he began listening to the bass in other records, from Teena Marie's "Square Biz", to Tom Browne's "Thighs High", and said to himself, "That's what I wanna do". That year, Calvin received his first bass for Christmas.
As Hyde Park's chorus evolved into a gospel choir, it would seem that Calvin found himself in the right place at the right time. As the former bassist left the group to pursue other interests (the music staff were older, and had already graduated high school), the opportunity presented itself for Calvin to step into the role of a front line bassist, as well as the opportunity to learn all this beautiful new music. He truly enjoyed jamming in rehearsals, and was always looking forward to the next one. Calvin grew to believe that it was here that he truly began to evolve as a bassist. The gospel choir further evolved into a community choir, and for the next eleven years, Calvin would remain a faithful member. This role paved the way for Calvin to work with many other churches and community choirs throughout Chicago. Among them are True Light Church- Baptist, William Smith and the Renewed Voices for Christ, Christ Unity Evangelistic House of Prayer, Walter Howard and the Dedicated to Christ Ensemble, St. John Baptist Church, Prayer and Faith Outreach Ministries, and New Beginnings Full Gospel Church, just to name a few.
Feeling a lack of creative freedom, due in large part to the fact that most churches and outside choirs continue to perform covers of other peoples' music, Calvin decided that it was time for a change. He wouldn't stop playing for the church, because he was determined to continue to use his gift to praise God, but he desperately needed to explore his own creative flow. He logged on to Musicianfinder.com, a website created to help musicians locate one another in order to start up bands, put together shows, etc. Shortly thereafter, Calvin hooked up with Vince "The Funky Trumpeter" Abrams, and together these two formed The Jazz Matrix, a group of misfit musicians, capable of cranking out soothing grooves, mellow ballads, and all - out funk fests. In addition, through this union, he came to meet and work with many other musicians and groups throughout Chicagoland. Among the other bands that have come to trust and rely on Calvin for that deep bass pocket are Say Yes, Nikl Slik, Lisa Jackson and Shades of Gray, and Smooth As Silk, andfrom 2010 to 2016, he anchored the bass chair in one of the midwest's premier show bands, BBI. Currently, Calvin continues his work with Sheryl Youngblood & Say Yes, The Javon Watson Experience, and The SPAA Theater.
Calvin has been featured on three full recordings, and one single to date, including "Whatever You Want, God's Got It", by Walter Howard and the Dedicated to Christ Ensemble, "I Want To Sing For You", by Evangelist Jannice D. White, "Enter The Jazz Matrix", by The Jazz Matrix,(featuring some of his own compositions), and in July, 2007, Calvin released his first solo project, "Deep Inside". In October, 2009, he released his second solo effort, "Crossroad", which has sold in Japan and Italy, and continues to gain a following.
Calvin has also performed at such events as the 1996 Gospel Festival in Chicago, The 1996 Gospel Music Workshop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Bobby Jones' Gospel Explosion in Nashville Tennessee, and in the summer of 2005, Calvin functioned as the front man in a group put together to back up the spoken word artists of Ear Candy and Ebony Energy at the Taste of Chicago. In addition he has performed in bands opening up for such mainstream artists as Sting, Annie Lennox, Brian McKnight, Angie Stone, and Anthony Hamilton.
Lastly, Calvin has performed at such venues as the House of Blues, the Bleu Jazz Cafe, the Regal Theater, the United Center, the Majestic Star Casino, the Tweeter Center, the Negro League Cafe, Green Dolphin Street, the Ameristar Casino, and Chicago's Petrillo Band Shell, and continues to perform throughout Chicagoland, and wherever the groove may take him.
I play live with the bands that I work with, and yes, I absolutely love it. I'm working on my solo projects, simply because those other bands are all cover bands, and I have my own stories that I want to share, in my own way. It's more or less a hobby (although I am open to releasing more music), as I simply prefer to focus on working with my clients. I don't need to be a star...I just enjoy the work, and if fame comes from it, so much the better.
I freelance when called upon and available, but I work primarily with The Javon Watson Experience, Sheryl Youngblood & Say Yes, and I'm the current first call bassist for the SPAA Theater.
I love anything with a good, solid groove, but I guess my main influences would be:
Bands: Earth, Wind, and Fire, Mint Condition, Slave, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Cameo(back in the day when they were 9-13 musicians deep), and I could go on and on, the more I think about it-
Bassists: Nathan Watts(Stevie Wonder), Mark Adams(Slave), Terry Lewis(The Time), Nathan East(Fourplay), Verdine White(E,W,&F), Bootsy Collins, Victor Wooten(who wouldn't love that guy?), "Ready" Freddie Washington(Patrice Rushen), you know, that list could go on and on too!
My main bass is an Ibanez SRX 505, but I also own an Ibanez SR 405, and a Warwick Rock Bass. My road gear is a Carvin RL 600 head, with Carvin RL 210 and Carvin RL115 cabinets. My Home/local gear is a Carvin BX 600 head, paired with Seismic Audio 210 and 410 cabs. When I'm doing vocals, I'm usually using whatever's available.
Check out my website to find me at the next gig, at Facebook.com/CalvinWhittaker, as well as my FB music page, Calvin Whittaker, Chicago Area Bassist.