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Dr. Michael White

Dr. Michael White is a multifaceted, multi-talented New Orleans-based musician who hasn't gotten nearly enough exposure outside of his native Crescent City. A musicologist, jazz historian, educator, clarinet player, and bandleader, White and his band make an annual trip to New York's Village Vanguard jazz club to perform on and around New Year's Eve. But owing to his responsibilities as a professor at Xavier University, he and his band don't get out of town that much.

White began playing clarinet in classical music settings, but eventually, the jazz bug overtook him and he began performing around New Orleans with various brass bands. Most notably, White hooked up with Doc Paulin, who led a ten-piece brass band. To offset the feast or famine nature of his income as a musician, he began teaching Spanish at Xavier University in 1980. In recent years, he's been teaching New Orleans music and culture under an endowed chair at Xavier.

While the blues is fundamental to everything White does as a musician, the more he learns about New Orleans music and other music of the American south, the more he likes to push himself and his bandmates in different directions.

It is White's crystal-clear-toned clarinet playing that can be heard on Wynton Marsalis' critically hailed 1989 release, The Majesty of the Blues (Columbia Records). More recently, White worked with Marsalis, the artistic director for jazz at the Lincoln Center in New York, on A Tribute to Jelly Roll Morton, a series of concerts that were performed there. White also served as musical director for concert tributes to King Oliver and Sidney Bechet that were collaborations with Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

White began playing clarinet as a youngster, but didn't make his professional debut until he was in his late teens with Paulin's brass band. He cites as primary influences many New Orleans clarinet players: Sidney Bechet, Johnny Dodds, Barney Bigard, Paul Barnes, Willie Humphrey, and George Lewis. Raised on classic R&B and early rock & roll, he became aware of Benny Goodman while studying clarinet in his teens, but was more interested in the long clarinet tradition in New Orleans.

White had a musical revelation in 1975 when he first put a needle down on a recording by clarinetist George Lewis. He proceeded to wear out the grooves on the record, and listened to it for days on end. Later he learned that one of his relatives was on the Lewis recording.

He formed his first group, the Original Liberty Jazz Band, in 1981. He continues to lead that band as well as two smaller groups, the Liberty Brass Band and the Michael White Quartet.

White has recorded two critically acclaimed albums for the New Orleans-based Basin Street Records label, Dancing in the Sky (2004) and Jazz from the Soul of New Orleans (2002). Both ventures freely mix blues tunes with more traditional sounding New Orleans jazz numbers, and both will appeal to fans of blues and jazz. An earlier release, A Song for George Lewis, was released in 2000, also for Basin Street. With Antilles Records, White released New Year's Eve Live at the Village Vanguard and Crescent City Serenade, both in the '90s.

White has made strides since the mid-'90s in taking his brand of the New Orleans jazz and blues clarinet tradition to other cities around the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Ultimately, he's equally at ease at home in a small club, house party, or wedding in New Orleans as he is out on a concert hall stage. ~ Richard Skelly
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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kellied
I love you, Dr. White! Your music makes my heart dance!
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Great clarinetist!
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Smooth.
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I am proud to say that Michael played with my grandmother, Sadie Cola. She played the piano and was a singer.
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rolfrfj
Simply wonderful! I love every one of his pieces.
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and he has played at Tulane University's graduation ceremonies, which are amazing! Mardi Gras Indians, second lines through the Superdome, and last year we had Dr. John and Allen Toussaint!!! Oh an they have Daquiris too………gotta love this town…..
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Dr. White makes a great statement... . w e l l done.
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I have been listening to traditional, or classic, or New Orleans jazz (all of these terms have been preempted at one time or another) for 60 years. I think it is great that Dr. White is an ambassador for this music, but he is far from the greatest clarinet player of all time. Who is? There have been dozens of greats, but I would say that Evan Christopher is the best I ever heard. He was playing with Jim Cullum at the time, and he dominated the group. Pure genius.
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I love my Hometown KC Jazz but I gotta tell ya, I'm loving the New Orleans style, I'll be traveling to NOLA soon, can't wait to hear it live!
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Doc, you dah man. Lazy and smooth easy listening. Take two and call me in the morning. DMB
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What a joyous and remarkable band. Muy bueno Doctor!
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Careless Love by Dr. Michael White on Adventures In New Orleans Jazz - Oh yes Lord, mah soul almost got saved until I list'n'd to da words. LOL! All good though. All good. (Cee Rex)
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Waa Hooo! Dr. White would appear to be the man to watch! Or at least to listen to.
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photoruff_pw h s
Dr White played at my daughter's Tulane University Graduation, and I was hooked.
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rockin blues, lov it!
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Great traditional New Orleans Blues. Ten!
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sweeeet
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twitteman
Music to the heart is what Mr. White plays to me.
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albettown
classical, also original
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mbwa
Great tone. Wonderful control of his instrument.
Report as inappropriate
Nawlins Rocks- too many Geniuses to keep track of! BF.
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Algiers Hoodoo Woman from Dancing In The Sky just came on and I LOVE it! I wish I could be dancing right now, but I'm in a cubicle.
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I am a jazz fan just learning and i am eager to learn more about jazz and the roots of this music .I am going to look for music by Dr. white to purchase. Viola lewis
hazlehurst,g a .

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