The problem I have had with Dr. Michael White has been that I felt him overtly reverent to New Orleans Jazz to the point of its asphyxiation (a complaint I frequently voice for Wynton Marsalis and the music of Ellington on). Jazz from the Soul of New Orleans causes me to refute my previous prejudices. Dr. White is a bit of the keeper of the flame. That flame, if you will, might be considered the source of Jazz— the New Orleans tradition. Rather than being eclipsed by standing so close to the flame, White instead converses with it in its own language. Peppering the public domain standards for "Summertime" and "Fidgety Feet" with his historically informed originals "Late Night Blues" and "Horn Man Blues," Dr. White colors within the lines without being boring or repetitive. His support is capable producing that brilliant New Orleans counterpoint that 100 years ago was definitely not coloring within the lines.
Jazz from the Soul of New Orleans
is a solid traditional jazz release with contemporary compositions in the old style. White's two Afro-Caribbean pieces ("Martinique" and " Caribbean Girl) both contain a bit of Hebraic smoke in the finish. His contemporary gospel in "If We Ever Needed Jesus" recalls sweaty Louisiana churches in the summertime. His slow blues "Late Night Blues" is a lazy summer evening at Preservation Hall under the ceiling fans. "Horn Man Blues" is a hung over funeral stomp on a Monday morning with a bit of entendre for the recently deceased. These, with the standards, provide a clinic in traditional jazz, albeit a slightly idiosyncratic one.
Track Listing: Hindustan; If We Ever Needed Jesus; Summertime; Martinique; In The Beautiful Garden Of Prayer; Fidgety Feet; Horn Man Blues; Caribbean Girl; Late Night Blues; Red Wing; In The Sweet Bye And Bye. (Total Time: 52.34).
Personnel: Dr. Michael White-- Clarinet; Gregory Stafford, Clyde Kerr-- Trumpet; Lucien Barbarin-- Trombone; Steven Pastorius, Rickie Monie-- Piano; Detroit Brooks-- Banjo; Kerry Lewis-- Violin; Herman Lebeaux-- Drums Juanita Brooks, Thias Clark-- Vocals
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.