Dr. Michael White's Blue Crescent is a journey through the history of New Orleans jazz, blues, ballads, funeral, and parade music featuring twelve original tracks and two covers.
Dr. Michael White - Blue Crescent
Blue Crescent: Comme Ci Comme Ça, Blue Crescent, St. Louis Blues, Crescent City Calypso, Katrina, Sunday Morning, Dark Sunshine, King of the Second Line, He Leads Me On This Journey, London Canal Breakdown, Majestic Strut, Algeria, Ooh La La (Danse Créole), Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Personnel: Dr. Michael White: Clarinet, Vocal; Nicholas Payton: Trumpet; Gregory Stafford: Trumpet, Vocal; Dwayne Burns: Trumpet; Lucien Barbarin: Trombone; Steve Pistorius: Piano; Detroit Brooks: Banjo, Guitar, Vocal; Roland Guerin: Bass; Jason Marsalis: Drums; Shannon Powell: Drums; Troy Davis; Percussion
Blue Crescent was produced by Dr. Michael G. White and Mark Bingham on the Basin Street Records label. Blue Crescent, like Dr. Michael Whites' previous release, Dancing in the Sky, which I reviewed in the Music Scene section (Dr. Michael White - Dancing in the Sky), is the result of a residency at the artist retreat facility, A Studio in the Woods. Having lost his physical possessions to the devastating floods of Hurricane Katrina, he still had his faith and his music to carry him on.
With many jazz and blues releases containing standards arranged in different formats, Blue Crescent is special with a compilation of twelve original traditional jazz tracks and two covers. Dr. Michael White is a student of music and especially New Orleans music covering over 100 years. So, his twelve original songs utilize the formats from blues, hymns, ballads, rag, dance hall, and more. His devotion to the sound of New Orleans is what will help keep it alive for generations to come, which is a remarkable contribution to the music and the City.
The release opens with Comme Ci Comme Ça, in that traditional New Orleans dance hall style that will have you snapping your fingers, kicking up your feet, and looking for the parasol. The title track Blue Crescent starts off slow and easy drawing you into the blues, he then brings it up tempo with the piano and he laces in some ‘sunshine' by taking the clarinet up a few octaves to leave you with a feeling that things will get better no matter what your challenge.
His cover of St. Louis Blues, one of the most recorded blues songs, shows the complexity of this composition and why it has become a staple on the music scene. Looking at influences that have melded between countries he wrote Crescent City Calypso with that distinct Martinique Calypso infused with New Orleans blues. The track Katrina was written from a personal perspective, and includes an intro that is the sound of ‘the heavens opening and rain pouring down,' it then moves into the funeral march format where each instrument takes the lead and recounts the pain and tragedy of the event almost conveying a sense of cleansing and moving forward.
The track Sunday Morning is up-tempo and will have you smiling and sauntering around your room with lyrics and vocals that are deep and reminiscent to Louis Armstrong, one of the most endearing figures from New Orleans. The tracks alternate between the sentimental hymn and faith based to the parade and dance hall sound, and thus, Dr. Michael White's believe that life is fraught with challenges, but through faith and music you can move forward.
Websites where you can procure Dr. Michael White - Blue Crescent are Basin Street Records, CD Universe, AOL, Amazon, Louisiana Music Factory, and Tower Records.
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