Michael White (clarinetist)

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Michael White
Dr. Michael White 2.jpg
Michael White at the 2007 Satchmofest
Background information
Born (1954-11-29) November 29, 1954 (age 64)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
GenresJazz, dixieland
Occupation(s)Musician, educator
LabelsBasin Street, Antilles, 504
Associated actsDoc Paulin, Kid Sheik Colar, The New Orleans Hot Seven, The Original Liberty Jazz Band, Young Tuxedo Brass Band

Dr. Michael White (born 29 November 1954 in New Orleans) is a jazz clarinetist, bandleader, composer, jazz historian and musical educator. Scott Yanow, a jazz critic, said in a review that White "displays the feel and spirit of the best New Orleans clarinetists."[1]


Michael White at Algiers Riverfest, New Orleans, 2008

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 University commencement 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]

Other endeavors[edit]


White is also a college professor who formerly taught Spanish, now teaching African-American Music at Xavier University of Louisiana,[8] a member of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). At the 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.[9]

Personal life[edit]

White was living in a one-story home in the Gentilly district of New Orleans, near the London Avenue Canal during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. White was a collector of jazz artifacts and local history for 30 years. He owned the original sheet music of "Dead Man Blues" by Jelly Roll Morton, a clarinet mouthpiece by Sidney Bechet, and an estimated 5,000 records and LPs which were lost during the flooding.[8]


Year Album Notes Label
2012 "Adventures in New Orleans Jazz, Part 2" - Basin Street
2011 "Adventures in New Orleans Jazz, Part 1" - Basin Street
2008 "Blue Crescent" - Basin Street
2005 "Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album for the Gulf Coast" - Nonesuch
2005 "Songs of New Orleans: Preservation Hall Jazz Band" Preservation Hall album Preservation Hall
2004 "Dancing in the Sky" Basin Street
2002 "Jazz From the Soul of New Orleans" - Basin Street
2000 "A Song For George Lewis" - Basin Street
2000 "A Tribute to Johnny Dodds" - Jazz Crusade
2000 "Dance @ the Dew Drop" - GHB
2000 "Shake It and Break It (expanded reissue)" - 504
1992 "New Year's Eve Live at the Village Vanguard" - Antilles
1990 "Crescent City Serenade" - Antilles
1989 "The Majesty of the Blues" - Columbia
1987 "Shake It and Break It" - 504
1984 "T'Ain't Nobody's Business" - 504
1983 Jazz Continues: Young Tuxedo Brass Band - 504


  • 1994 Royal Norwegian Musical Medal (Norway)
  • 1995 Chevalier of Arts and Letters (France)


The discography used allmusicguide.com as one guide.


  1. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Dancing in the Sky". Retrieved 2007-05-28.
  2. ^ "Basin Street Records Bio". Retrieved 2007-05-29.
  3. ^ Koster, Rick (2002). Louisiana Music: A Journey from R&B to Zydeco, Jazz to Country, Blues to Gospel, Cajun Music to ... Da Capo Press. p. 64. ISBN 0-306-81003-4.
  4. ^ "All Songs Considered, Episode 64".
  5. ^ Chinen, Nate (2006-12-29). "Ring Out, Ring In, And You Can Choose the Beat". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-05-29.
  6. ^ Nead, Arthur. "Tulane Commencement 2006". Archived from the original on 2006-09-06. Retrieved 2007-05-28.
  7. ^ "NEA National Heritage Fellowships 2008". www.arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  8. ^ a b Burnett, John. "Lost Jazz Treasures Live on in Clarinetist's Music". Retrieved 2007-05-29.
  9. ^ "Dr. Michael White, Jazz Musician, Professor, Xavier University". Archived from the original on 2007-07-01. Retrieved 2007-05-29.

External links[edit]