Dr. Michael White


Dr. Michael White is a classically trained musician who began his jazz musical 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 performing in Jackson Square in the French Quarter. White began working regularly with Colar. White can be heard on the 1989 album The Majesty of the Blues by Wynton Marsalis.[2] Marsalis appears on White’s 1990 album Crescent City Serenade with Wendell Brunious and Walter Payton.

Since 1979 White has played in the Young Tuxedo Brass Band, founded by clarinetist John Casimir sometime in the 1940s.[3] During the 1980s he 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. 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.[4]The Dancing in the Sky album is mostly original compositions by White.

In 1981, White founded The Original Liberty Jazz Band to preserve 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.[5] On May 13, 2006, White performed “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” at the Tulane Universitycommencement ceremony. Former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton were in attendance at the ceremony. Clinton said that the music “was played the way Dixieland bands have always done it. At first low, weeping, sorrowful.” [6]

He is a recipient of a 2008 National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States’ highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.[7]

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