Dr. Michael White is a professor of Spanish and Afro-American music at Xavier University. But his real job is working hard to make sure that the New Orleans jazz tradition stays alive and well through writings, lectures and performing. Selecting soul mate fellow clarinetist Johnny Dodds as the subject for this CD, White replicates tunes Dodds played with either his own group or with one of the many he was a member of during his performing years. The older brother of drummer Baby Dodds, he was largely self taught although he is purported to have taken some lessons from master New Orleans clarinet teacher, Lorenzo Tio.
Although not as technically adroit as other New Orleans clarinet players like Jimmie Noone or George Lewis, Dodds possessed a unique and memorable tone which White faithfully recreates. The group's rendition of "Loveless Love", which Dodds put to wax in 1927, is pure traditional jazz. The solemn trumpet of Norman Thatcher, both in solo and in unison with White's soulful clarinet, makes this cut one of the highlights of the album. There are some rarities here as well like "Melancholy", "Blue Clarinet Stomp" and "Bull Fiddle Blues", all of which Dodds wrote and for which he was virtually the only performer. Discographies reveal no other recordings of these pieces by anyone else from that period. The set includes "Wild Man Blues" which Dodds recorded with his Black Bottom Stompers and also with Louis Armstrong's Hot Seven.
White gets A-one support from players who share his admiration for the New Orleans style. In addition to Thatcher, Emil Mark's piano and Colin Bray's bass are synchronized with White's interpretation of the music Dodds wrote and played. Big Bill Bissonnette, the driving force behind Jazz Crusade Records, is here playing the typical New Orleans style of drums. Solid stuff and recommended.
Personnel: Dr. Michael White - Clarinet; Norman Thatcher - Trumpet; Emil Mark - Piano; Colin Bray - Bass; Big Bill Bissonnette - drums