Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Dr. Michael White: A Song for George Lewis

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Dr. Michael White celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of the legendary New Orleans jazz clarinetist George Lewis on this CD. Fellow Crescent City clarinetist White rejoices in his mentor’s spirit by choosing material that represents different periods of Lewis’ prolific recording career.

White includes Lewis’ signature piece, the elegant “Burgundy Street Blues,” which drips with Spanish moss and humid nights; White’s title cut is reminiscent of “Burgundy Street Blues,” with its melancholy melody.

The album kicks off in a lighter mood, however, with the popular dance band number “Big Chief Battle Axe,” which Lewis recorded with Bunk Johnson. Native American rhythms and melodies start and infiltrate the tune while it also soars in classic New Orleans style. In on the fun are trumpeter Gregg Stafford, who takes a vocal bow on “Louisian-i-a,” and drummer Shannon Powell.

“Bugle Boy March” offers a change of pace and demonstrates jazz’s early creators’, and White’s bandmembers’, ingenuity in bringing improvisation and syncopation to standard marches. This is joyous second-lining music with Lucien Barbarin’s trombone getting down and dirty against the rhythm set by bassist Kerry Lewis, banjoist Detroit Brooks and Powell.

Ensemble playing is at the heart of traditional jazz, and these musicians, who have performed often together, weave with a joyful ease. A Song for George Lewis remembers the legend not by imitation but rather in the spirit of improvisation.