VACAVILLE — ’Tis the season for Senior Airman Joseph R. Whitt to perform – a lot.
Whitt is a member of The Commanders Jazz Ensemble of the United States Air Force Band of the Golden Gate. The 38-year-old began playing bass about 20 years ago. He has a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Central Florida and a master’s degree from Temple University in Philadelphia. He primarily plays the acoustic double bass and six-string electric bass.
“I love the sound it makes, the low woody warm tones that are possible from the instrument,” Whitt shared in an email with the Daily Republic. “The function of the bass, the foundational element, the supportive role of the instrument is also very intriguing to me. Bass lines are what hold music and performances together, it is a serious responsibility. I also love the vocal qualities of the solo aspect of the bass. Many musicians believe that bassists are born, not made.”
Whitt was born in Ohio and lived in different places in his youth.
“I don’t really feel like I am from anywhere in particular, geographically speaking,” he wrote.
He won his audition with the Air Force Band in February 2009, having been a professional musician before joining the military. Whitt also worked as a musician on a cruise ship, which enabled him to visit about 40 countries.
In his free time, he enjoys mountain biking, snowboarding and hiking.
Whitt said it’s a pleasure to perform with The Commanders Jazz Ensemble. The program for the holiday shows, there are six of them, make it hard for him to narrow down a favorite tune for performance.
“My Favorite Things” is one of his favorites at Christmastime.
“Although it’s not always thought of as a traditional tune, many legendary artists have performed this tune. It has a great flowing melody and the harmonic qualities that provide a great playground for improvisation,” he wrote. “I will make sure to teach this music to my children.”
Whitt also serves as The Commanders’ operations representative and plays with the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West Concert Band.
In 1999, he won the award for outstanding musicianship at the International Society of Jazz Educators annual convention. Whitt has performed at numerous music festivals and with several symphony orchestras.
In addition to the Solano County shows, The Commanders are playing Dec. 3 in Lodi, Dec. 9 in Rohnert Park and Dec. 10 in Livermore.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.