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Dr. Michael White: Blue Crescent (2008)

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Dr. Michael White: Blue Crescent How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The recovery of New Orleans from the effects of Hurricane Katrina has been slow coming. The city's musical community has been devastated by the forced relocation of numerous first-rate performers. Despite all the pain and tragedy of the last three years, local artists like clarinetist/educator Dr. Michael White are able to find solace in the enduring optimism and good-natured spirit of the crescent city. Blue Crescent finds White with an all-star, hometown cast of heavy-hitters performing a set of spiritually infused traditional jazz.

Throughout the recording White keeps the flames of his city's musical tradition burning with fresh compositions framed with familiar forms. Original tunes like "Comme Ci Comme Sa," with White vocalizing in French, and the title track stay true to an early jazz aesthetic.

White's endearing clarinet tone leads the way through much of the session. Jagged, upper-register wailing ("Crescent City Calypso," "Sunday Morning") and low-note, full-bodied brooding ("Katrina," "Dark Sunshine") reveal a crafty practitioner who fully understands the nuances of his instrument. For all his technical flourishes, White is most effective when displaying a patient vocal-like approach, as on "He Leads Me On This Journey."

A thoughtful lyricist, White's words are cleverly interpreted by trumpeter Gregory Stafford and banjoist Detroit Brooks; an added element that makes Blue Crescent a thoughtful, toe-tapping representation of New Orleans' rich musical heritage.

Track Listing: Comme Ci Comme Sa; Blue Crescent; St. Louis Blues; Crescent City Calypso; Katrina; Sunday Morning; Dark Sunshine; King of the Second Line; He Leads Me On This Journey; London Canal Breakdown; Majestic Strut; Algeria; Ooh La La (Danse Creole); Will the Circle Be Unbroken.

Personnel: Dr. Michael White: clarinet, vocal; Nicholas Payton: trumpet; Gregory Stafford: trumpet, vocals; Dwayne Burns: trumpet; Lucien Barbarin: trombone; Steven Pistorius: piano; Detroit Brooks: banjo, guitar, vocal; Roland Guerin: bass; Jason Marsalis: drums; Shannon Powell: drums; Troy Davis: percussion.

Record Label: Basin Street Records

Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing


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