- Rick Whitehead
- …if you haven't seen Whitehead perform live, you're missing one of Washington's Jazz Treasures.
- Eric Brace
The Washington Post
Rick Whitehead is the recipient of the Washington Area Musician’s Asssociation 2007 award as “Best Jazz Instrumentalist. He was the featured guitar soloist for the USAF Band’s Airmen of Note for 22 years and toured with the group throughout the United States, Far East, and South America.
Originally from Miami, Whitehead started playing the guitar at age 11. When he was 18, he was performing on Shows on the Beach and worked with Connie Francis, Sandler and Young, Jayne Morgan, Glen Campbell and others.
Whitehead can be heard on close to 40 recordings. Some of the notables in jazz he performed and recorded with, while a member of the Airmen of Note, are vocalists Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan, Sue Raney and guitarists Mundell Lowe, Johnny Smith and Roy Clark. He also worked with Dianne Schuur, Billy Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Jr. and Charlie Byrd. During this time he appeared with the band on the Tonight Show, the Mike Douglas Show, Nashville Now, and performed at many major Jazz Festivals across the United States including Newport, Monterey and Mobile. He performed at The East Coast Jazz Festival in February 2005. In July 2005, he performed at The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz.
Whitehead has been the featured guitar soloist with the Masterworks Jazz Orchestra at George Mason University and the Georgetown University Jazz Ensemble. He frequently presents a solo jazz guitar concert as part of the Corcoran Gallery’s Armand Hammer Jazz Series. He has also appeared with renown bassist Keter Betts in the Montpelier Jazz Series in Laurel, Md; with Triplicity at Rams Head Tavern, Annapolis, Md; with Joe Byrd at 49 West in Annapolis, Md and The Main Stay, in Rock Hall, Md.
“Whitehead’s style encompasses the entire history of jazz guitar - the chordal solos of Joe Pass, the bop lines of Barney Kessel, the octaves of Wes Montgomery, the fluid melodicism of Tal Farlow, the rhythmic push of Django Reinhardt, even the controlled noise of more modern players. [He is] clearly comfortable working in any song form and style.” Eric Brace, The Washington Post.
In the Washington Metro area, some of the venues in which he and his trio have performed are: Blues Alley, Bohemian Caverns, the Smithsonian Jazz Café, the John F. Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and Twins Jazz. During the summer of 2004 he performed with his trio in concert at the Washington National Cathedral and Shenandoah University, Winchester, Virginia. The trio is a regular in the Basin Street Lounge at the 219 Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia.
His first CD Live in Captivity with members of his trio, John Previti on bass and drummer, Barry Hart, won the Washington Area Music Association WAMMIE Award in 1998 for best Contemporary Jazz Album. The trio released their second CD Live in Captivity Again in 2001. In 2003, Whitehead released his first solo CD, Notes from Home, receiving rave reviews in The Washington Post and Just Jazz Guitar magazine: “So There We Were . . .”, released in 2006, is the trio’s third CD. It was nominated as “Best Jazz CD” by WAMA in 2007. The Rick Whitehead Trio was nominated as Best Jazz Ensemble in the 2004, 2006 and 2007 WAMA awards.
Retired from the Air Force in 1991, Whitehead is in constant demand as a guitarist throughout the Metro area. He teaches jazz guitar at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, VA; at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA; and in his home studio. He has led clinics at the Mobile Jazz Festival, the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, the International Association for Jazz Educators, and many schools and colleges throughout the United States. Whitehead currently resides in Northern Virginia.