Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing four CDs by Dr. Michael White. Being firmly rooted in the jazz of the Crescent City, the clarinetist is a favorite with New Orleans purists as well as those who are new to the music.
In a bit of a departure from his usual devotion to Johnny Dodds and George Lewis, we are treated to the inner Michael White and five of his original compositions. Fear not! Dr. White has penned his originals in authentic New Orleans fashion. On "Late Night Blues", Michael is obviously paying tribute to Sidney Bechet and you’ll love the fine piano solo by Rickie Monie. "Horn Man Blues" is another original featuring Thais Clark with a wonderful double entendre vocal.
The old standards are not forgotten and appear in the form of "Red Wing", Fidgety Feet" and a blistering version of "Hindustan" which is not a tune I usually enjoy. One of the traditional spirituals is "In The Sweet Bye And Bye" and a highlight of this album. Trumpeter Gregg Stafford, pianist Steve Pistorius and trombonist Lucien Barbarin join Dr. White. It’s a gem!
If there is a "sleeper" on this CD, it has to be "In The Beautiful Garden Of Prayer" penned by Eleanor Allen Schroll and James H. Fillmore. Whenever I play this disk for others, all conversation comes to a halt when this track plays. It features the leader’s clarinet accompanied only by Rickie Monie and bassist Kerry Lewis. This track is four minutes of pure beauty.
In short, I highly recommend this disk to those who enjoy the sound of vintage jazz.