Mark was born August 28, 1951 in Amarillo, Texas. He began piano lessons at four, and played his first professional gig at six. He joined an R & B group “The Undertakers” at 14, touring with them for four years. Mark moved to Austin in 1970, and played with numerous groups including Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Willis Allen Ramsey & Jerry Jeff Walker. He received a scholarship from Berklee School of Music where he got the chance to study with Bill Evans. Little adds that studying with Bill Evans was a “once in a lifetime incredible experience”. He (Bill Evans) talked extensively about developing the “inner voice’s” of the piano and sited Mozart as an example of this technique. By 1975, Mark was teaching at Berklee.

In 1980, Mark moved to California and got the job playing piano for Cleo Lane and John Dankworth, performing with them at many venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles and Royal Albert Hall in London.

He composed and arranged for Bobby McFerrin, as well as performing with him at the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles. He toured the United States and Europe with Maria Muldaur, working at Fat Tuesday’s in New York City and Ronnie Scott’s in London, among other places. On tour with Art Farmer and Clifford Jordan, Mark played the hottest clubs on the West Coast including Yoshi’s in San Francisco.

He “tenured” as the musical director and pianist for E.W. Wainwrights African Roots of Jazz. During which time he did special “command performances” for Nelson Mandela , Danny Glover and Louis Farrakhan.

Mark has worked with many great jazz artists, including Joe Henderson, Pharaoh Sanders, Grady Tate, Eddie Henderson, Morgana King, Joe Lovano, Ted Curson, Shorty Rogers, Chico Freeman , Bobby Hutcherson, Steve Allen, Ryo Kawasaki, Don Moye, Morganna King, Bud Shank, and Melba Moore.

He recorded his first album as a leader, “Dreamwalk’n” in 1993 on the “Monarch” label.

Little’s second CD, “The Tribe” was recorded in 1995 again on the Monarch label.

Mark’s third CD, “Birthright” was a solo live performance at the famous Maybeck Recital Hall released in 1999.

Little’s 2003 CD, “Isn’t Art It!” released on his own label “Caralittle Music” is all original compositions dedicated to the life and work of his brother Ken Little which demonstrates Mark’s versatility of styles and creativity.

Little's 2014 CD, 'Kindred Spirits' released on his on his own label “Caralittle Music” containing some original compositions along with his unique arrangement of standards; including pieces from Beethoven, Bach, and Chopin set to a jazz trio.

Little's 2015 CD, 'Suite Mother' released on his own label “Caralittle Music” is all original compositions dedicated to the life and memory of his late mother, Nadyne.

Mark moved to San Antonio in 2004 and has played with numerous groups including his brother Ken Little’s band, Richie Cole’s Alto Madness orchestra and  Kyle Kyner’s Small World with Polly Harrison and Richard Oppenheim 

In the words of Mark’s old friend the late, great, John Dankworth, “Mark Little’s spirited playing amply demonstrates his total immersion in the music he loves, not to mention his wholehearted commitment to it. His fluent improvisations explore ever-changing routes with a surprise around nearly every corner; they sometimes display extraordinary virtuosity and sometimes almost disarming simplicity, yet are never devoid of interest. He shows himself to be an exciting performer whose work is still developing; this bodes well for the future of this highly individual artiste.”  

 

Photographer: Ken Little

Musician: Mark Little

©2016 Mark Little