Booker T. Jones was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and has 4 Grammy awards. (Courtesy photo)

Booker T. Jones will be celebrating 60 years of Green Onions and the Hammond B-3 organ at Jazz Club at The Soraya in Northridge on Feb. 2-3, at 8 p.m.

As part of the Third Annual Jazz at Naz Festival, both evenings will feature a collaborative musical performance pairing of the legendary organist with up-and-coming keyboard extraordinaire Matthew Whitaker.

One of the architects of The Memphis Sound, to which the 1960s and 1970s soul/funk movement is undeniably indebted, Jones, with his breakout album on the Stax Records label in 1962, helped to change the history of music.

Three-time ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award-Winner Matthew Whitaker—who has opened for Stevie Wonder at the Apollo Theater, scored an Emmy-winning commercial for Apple and the film “Starkeisha,” starred in an Emmy-nominated documentary about his life, and guest soloed for orchestras and symphonies from Colorado to Canada—represents the future.

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Soraya Executive and Artistic Director Thor Steingraber said, “We paired Whittaker and Jones for two reasons – first for their shared dedication to the Hammond B-3 organ, and secondly, it’s always interesting to pair artists from different generations. The Soraya has done that in other instances in the past, most notably, when we presented the only concert in which Bobby McFerrin shared the stage with his son Taylor.”

By all accounts, the Jones and Whitaker alignment seems to make for a melodic match.

“Matthew’s music is great,” Jones said. “Inventive, imaginative, showing great artistry and wit, with a master’s command of the keyboard.  I am proud to share the stage with such an artist.”

This from a man who became a multi-instrumentalist by the age of ten and a professional musician while still in high school.

“[My mother] literally put my fingers on the piano, pointed out middle C and showed me the note on a staff,” Jones recalled.

“That led to dime store drums, a ukulele, oboe and Bb clarinet in fourth grade with the Jr. High School band, and finally formal piano lessons with Mrs. Elmertha Cole starting in fifth grade. She would also become my Hammond Organ teacher.”

Growing up in Memphis in the 1940s and 1950s, Jones’ community was extremely musical, and the influence was inescapable.

“First was a next-door oboist, Carl Kirk, who practiced in his grandma’s attic across the driveway from my bedroom,” Jones remembers.

In addition to music, Matthew Whitaker is a strong advocate for persons with disabilities. (Courtesy photo)

“On Beale St. from the backseat of my dad’s car, I could hear the sidewalk blues singers. There was country music from Nashville radio, and BB King blues on WDIA.  At Mt. Olive Church, there were anthems and renditions from Gounods’ ‘Ave,’ to my father singing ‘His Eye is On the Sparrow.’ Charles Lloyd, Hank Crawford, and Joe Dukes were a few years ahead of me at BTW High, but I could hear them play at the Flamingo, or Club Handy down on Beale Street. It was assumed young Memphis musicians would go into jazz.”

Once joined with his group Booker T. and the MGs, gigs led to recordings, and after the airwaves accidentally got a load of “Green Onions”—originally called “Funky Onions” by bandmate Lewie Steinberg but toned down by Stax co-owner Estelle Axton—they were off to the races.

“The song was recorded to provide a ‘B’ side for ‘Behave Yourself,’ Jones said. “Steve Cropper took the finished acetate to WLOK where DJ Ruben Washington accidentally played the ‘B’ side over the air, and the phones lit up.”

Six decades and many collaborations later, including producing and playing on well-loved albums for such artists as Otis Redding and Bill Withers, Jones has been pleased to find that the song still resonates.

Iconic films such as “The Sandlot,” “Get Shorty,” “American Graffiti,” “Happy Gilmore,” and “Quadrophenia” have introduced and endeared the song to younger generations.

“Six decades sounds like a really long time, but because of my constant curiosity about music and all the possibilities it presents, coupled with all the pure joy I receive from making music it seems like a short period,” said Jones.

With Whitaker as his special guest this weekend, the possibilities will be magnified. Both Friday and Saturday shows have limited tickets available. Saturday’s show can be virtually streamed.

“I always want my shows to be fresh,” said Jones. “I definitely will include the MG’s songs with, of course, ‘Green Onions.’ There will be some vocals of songs I love – either ones I wrote or produced or played on.  Also, a song or two that means a lot to me.”

To purchase tickets, visit