Mark Whitecage is internationally known as an innovative instrumentalist and composer in the fields of jazz and new music. He performs at the highest level of creativity, constantly transforming and reconfiguring his wealth of musical experience to offer a fresh and unique voice in any musical setting. In his five decades of experience, Mark has explored bop and post-bop, free-wheeling improvisation, electronics, musical opera, music for dance, solo to big band ensembles, even sound collages with homemade instruments. Mark says of his experience, I've played in every type of band there is except klezmer.
Born in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1937, he began performing on alto sax at age 6 in his pianist father's family band along with his brother and sister. Mark got his union card at age 12, when he added tenor sax and clarinet to his arsenal, and throughout high school he honed his skills performing with a host of dance bands around Connecticut.
When he joined the Army in 1955 he continued to perform regularly with a quintet in a coffee house off the base in El Paso, Texas. It was in El Paso that Mark briefly met and played with Eric Dolphy, whose inspiration was pivotal in Mark's evolution from playing standards and bop toward finding his own voice on his instruments. Technically I could play anything I wanted, but I hadn't the slightest idea what direction to go. I could have gone into the studios, Mark said about his playing in those days. Of meeting and hearing Eric Mark says, One note and I was gone. I was in his camp. He turned me on to Zen Buddhism. He was into meditating. He got me on the right course between him and John Coltrane.