Artist: Dr. Michael White
Clarinet: New Orleans Jazz
Click Here to read “Man on a Mission” featuring Dr. Michael White
from MiamiARTzine’s Manny About Town
Click Here to read about Dr. Michael White in The Jazz Archivist
Dr. Michael White is a classically trained musician who began his jazz career as a teenager playing for Doc Paulin’s Brass Band in New Orleans. He was a member of an incarnation of the Fairview Baptist Church Marching Band, established by banjoist Danny Barker. He was discovered by Kid Sheik Colar, who heard him onstage performing in Jackson Square in the French Quarter. He began working with the musician regularly following the encounter. A staunch jazz traditionalist, White can be heard on the 1989 album “The Majesty of the Blues” by Wynton Marsalis. Wynton also appears on White’s 1990 album titled “Crescent City Serenade”, along with musiciansWendell Brunious and Walter Payton.
Dr. White has led several bands in the New Orleans area, and has accompanied various artists on other recording projects. Since 1979 he has played in the Young Tuxedo Brass Band. During the 1980s he also led a band called The New Orleans Hot Seven. Performing “A Tribute to Jelly Roll Morton” in concert with them at the Lincoln Center in New York City in 1989 led to a favorable review by Jon Pareles in the New York Times shortly after. On May 25, 2004, a selection from White’s album “Dancing in the Sky” (“Algiers Hoodoo Woman”) was broadcast on NPR’s All Songs Considered.
In 1981, White founded The Original Liberty Jazz Band with the express intent of preserving the musical heritage of New Orleans. The group has performed an end-of-year concert at the Village Vanguard every year since the early 1990s. On May 13, 2006 White performed “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” at the Tulane University commencement ceremony. Former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton were in attendance at the ceremony. Mr. Clinton was moved to make a remark about the performance during his speech.
“It was played the way Dixieland bands have always done it. At first low, weeping, sorrowful.”
– former U.S. President Bill Clinton
White has performed at the following festivals: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, French Quarter Festival, Satchmo Summerfest, Ascona Jazz Festival, Chicago Jazz Festival, Toronto Jazz Festival, and North Sea Jazz Festival
At Xavier University, he holds the Rosa and Charles Keller Endowed Chair in the Humanities of New Orleans Music and Culture. He has also served as guest director at several Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts relating to traditional New Orleans jazz, often working with Wynton Marsalis. White has also served as a commissioner for the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.