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Dr. Michael White

Dr. Michael White - clarinet

Although he grew up in the jazz-saturated environment of New Orleans and several of his relatives played with early jazz greats King Oliver and Kid Ory, Dr. Michael White's primary musical influence as a youth was his aunt, who played classical clarinet. White played clarinet in the noted St. Augustine's School Marching Band, but at the end of his college days he joined the Fairview Baptist Church Brass Band led by Danny Barker, a banjoist and elder statesman of New Orleans traditional jazz. White also played with Doc Paulin's Brass Band, marching in funeral parades and exploring historical recordings of such band leaders as Johnny Dodds, Sidney Bechet, and George Lewis. During this period he had the opportunity to play alongside more than three dozen traditional jazz musicians born between 1890 and 1910.

Although they had grown up within blocks of one another, Michael White and Wynton Marsalis had not met until the 1980s, when White sparked Marsalis’ interest in the music of the traditional jazz elders of New Orleans. This resulted in the seminal recording “Majesty of the Blues,” on which White is featured, and which marks Marsalis' turn toward appreciation and performance of the traditional repertoire of New Orleans jazz.

Since then, White has served as a resident artist with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and has been named as a Keller Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Xavier University, where he taught Spanish for more than 20 years. He also performed with a number of musical ensembles including the Young Tuxedo Brass Band and his own Original Liberty Jazz Band.

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