David Whitman

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David Whitman
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Born (1981-09-07) September 7, 1981 (age 42)
San Diego
CitizenshipUnited States of America
  • Jazz drummer
  • Classical percussionist
  • Composer

David Whitman (born September 7, 1981), is an American jazz drummer, classical percussionist, and composer/arranger. He and his music have received numerous awards and recognitions, including an Independent Music Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.

Early Life

Whitman was born in San Diego on September 7, 1981. Born into a musical family, he began playing percussion at a young age and before he was a teenager he was playing in nightclubs and taverns, having received local awards and scholarships to attend the oldest summer jazz workshops in the nation at Shell Lake Arts Center. In Shell Lake, Wisconsin he received class instruction in theory by master jazz musicians from the Chicago, St. Paul-Minneapolis, and Milwaukee areas. Especially influential for Whitman was the instruction on jazz listening from Luke Gillespie. He was a Sousa Award recipient and was selected from his high school to attend Boys State.

Later Life and Career

Shell Lake led to Whitman attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, lunching each day with a small group of artists and musicians that included his then friends Phil Cook (musician and Justin Vernon, the founder of indie folk giant Bon Iver. At Eau Claire David played in the school’s Jazz Ensemble I, six-time winner of Down Beat Magazine’s “Best College Big Band” award and two-time Grammy nominee. David played on the recording Things to Come, which was nominated for a GRAMMY[1]. A young S. Carey was behind David in school and closely watched David during rehearsals, taking over the drum chair after he left. Holding the drum chair shortly before David was Larry Lelli. While still a student at Eau Claire David was able to perform with Ingrid Jensen, Wycliffe Gordon, Maria Schneider (musician), David Berkman, Dick Oatts, Byron Stripling, Néstor Torres, Samuel Pilafian, and many more.

It was also during this time that David studied drum set intensively with David King (drummer) and Joe Morello, although the later was made possible by a grant from the UW-Eau Claire Foundation[2][3]. Downbeat Magazine listed David as a notable alumni of Eau Claire in their October 2013 issue[4].

Following Eau Claire, David received full tuition assistantships awards at Kansas State University and the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. At USM, he was a student of rudimental-drumming authority John Wooton. David moved to San Diego in 2010 to write his dissertation on classical marimba and integrating Tabla drumming with Western drum set[5]. He spent a year studying intensively with Arup Chattopadhyay, sometimes assisting him with his Tabla classes at UCSD, while continuing to study jazz and refine his own musical voice by blending aspects of jazz, rock, world, and classical percussion.

David performed through the musician’s union as just another orchestra member or sideman and/or as a jazz leader or sideman with Johnny Mathis, Andy Martin (American musician), Eric Marienthal, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Pete Townshend, Geoffrey Keezer, The Who, Jared Gold (organist), and Roger Nierenberg, among others. He has also performed with John Wooton, Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra, Chippewa Valley Symphony, Meridian Symphony Orchestra, Itzhak Perlman, Carnival Cruise Line, the San Diego Winds, and sometimes as a substitute with the San Diego Symphony, as well as with a number of Broadway tours[6]. David has also toured the US and Japan as an educator and performer[7][3].

David continues to compose, record, and produce his own brand of deep-rooted jazz. He is a recording artist with Ropeadope records[8]. Currently, Oh, Hugo!, and In Jazz We Respect Our Elders are in post-production, and will mark a return to the septet format of his first album, Oh, Clara! Geoffrey Keezer and Bob Sheppard (musician) both perform on the recordings. His most recent composition, entitled " FAIR WAYNE" was composed in response to the 2020 Supreme Court decision to deny Fair Wayne Bryant's request for a sentence renewal[9].

In December 2019, The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire awarded David The President’s Award---a highly scrutinized award for success in the chosen field and the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an alumnus of the school[10].

Awards and Nominations

Oh, Clara!, recorded in Capitol Studios on July 25 & 26, 2015, won the award for Best Album in the Jazz Instrumental category, and was nominated for Best Music Producer in the Jazz category at the 16th Annual Independent Music Awards[11][12][13][6]. Soul Flow received four Silver Medals at the Global Music Awards in March of 2020, in the following categories: Album, Jazz, Composition/Composer, and Audio[14]. Additionally, Soul Flow received three nominations at the 18th Annual Independent Music Awards - Best Music Producer (Jazz), Best Blues Song (for “Shuffle Blues”), and Best Jazz Instrumental Song (for “With Love”)[15].


As Leader

  • 2016 - Oh, Clara! (North Park)
  • 2019 - Soul Flow (Ropeadope Records)

As Collaborator

  • 2001 - Things to Come, Jazz in Clear Water (Sea Breeze Vista)
  • 2005 - Lockbox, Jazz in Clear Water (Sea Breeze Vista)
  • 2008 - Buleria, Solea, y Rumba, Jazz in Clear Water (Sea Breeze Vista)
  • 2012 - American Fusion; David Wozniak, Krista wallace-Boaz, David Whitman (Emeritus)
  • 2015 - Forget the Dark, Jason Matkin (Garuda Records)



  1. Giffey, Tom. "5 grammy-nominated locals who aren't Justin Vernon". volumeone.org. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  2. "David Whitman". New Music USA. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jazz, All About. "David Whitman music @ All About Jazz". All About Jazz Musicians. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  4. "Where to Study Jazz 2014" (PDF). Downbeat. Maher. 2013-10-01. p. 132. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  5. Whitman, David Robert, "Two Lecture Recitals of Percussion Music: "Notation for Stroke-Type Analyses" and "Tabla and Indian Musical Concepts in Modern Drum Set Performance"" (2011). Dissertations. 641. https://aquila.usm.edu/dissertations/641
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Arts Insider week of September 9". myemail.constantcontact.com. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  7. "People and Places" (PDF). Percussive Arts Society. 2011-02-04. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  8. "David Whitman". ropeadope. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  9. "Black Man Gets Life In Prison For Stealing Hedge Clippers, Supreme Court Says It's Appropriate Punishment". life.gomcgill.com. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  10. "Eight to receive UW-Eau Claire alumni awards". University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  11. "THE 16TH INDEPENDENT MUSIC AWARDS WINNERS". Independent Music Awards. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  12. Macek, Katy. "UW-EC music grads win IMA for jazz collab". Leader-Telegram. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  13. Oh, Clara! - David Whitman | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved 2020-12-20
  14. "Winners-Mar-2020". www.globalmusicawards.com. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  15. "THE 18TH INDEPENDENT MUSIC AWARDS NOMINEES ANNOUNCED". Independent Music Awards. 2020-04-09. Retrieved 2020-12-20.
  16. "DISCOGRAPHY". www.davidwhitmanmusic.com. Retrieved 2020-12-20.

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