Michael White Quintet
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Michael White Quintet

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE
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"Praise for "Voices" - Quotes"

"I savored the rasping moans and chanting clangs of this adventurous violinist's new CD, Voices (Izniz Recordings). White's burgundy tone, funky pizzicati, and easygoing arrangements smartly blend jazz and folk music from around the world." The Stranger Magazine

"Inspirational! Organic! " Doug Hare, Jack Straw's Sonarchy Radio.

"There's much radiant warmth and intelligence on display on this CD, with outstanding playing, particularly from Michael White and Tim Young, throughout. Some of my favorite things (so far) - 'Circumambulation'; the parts of 'Serenade' with the violin uncannily doubling Leisei Chen's voice, 'Mechanical Man'... Unlike many recordings, the louder you turn it up, the better and clearer it sounds! Very enjoyable. I'm glad I found out about Michael White, and 'Voices'. " Steve Wilson

Praise from fans:

" I loved all of the songs, particularly 'Voices,' 'Serenade,' and 'Fiesta. I hope there is more coming from Mr. White." K. Davis

" Voices has found a permanent place in my CD player!" R. Dawson, D.C.

" The more I listen to 'Voices,' the better I feel, and the more my mind is transformed " Taneo, Japan
- Various Sources

"Review - CD "Voices""

Renowned jazz violinist Michael White derives inspiration from love, healing, inspiration and hope to consummate these rather striking sequence of musical events. With percussionist Kenneth Nash’ mystical cymbal shadings and guitarist Timothy Young's intricate chord voicings, the music iterated here is founded upon a spiritually uplifting vibe. Here, White explores microtonal based mysticisms counterbalancing his soaring lines often accompanied by Leisei Chen's wordless vocals. In addition, the ensemble pursues ostinato motifs, mid-tempo swing vamps and other hybrid, jazz-based forays.

The violinist's mode of attack also includes a warm-hearted calypso groove on "Fiesta Dominical," and a soul-stirring, inward-looking spin on the standard "My One And Only Love." Bass great Cecil McBee closely contrasts White's sweet-toned phrasings via his impeccable timing and harmonically attractive voicings. This endeavor is seemingly steeped within a plight to uncover a hidden beauty of sorts as White's artistic mastery radiates in multifarious colors here! - Glenn Astarita, eJazz News

"Review - CD "Voices""

Though the violin is a relatively rare instrument in jazz, it's still a wonder that Michael White isn't better known. First coming to prominence with the early fusion group The Fourth Way - also featuring the equally underrated pianist Mike Nock - White recorded a handful of records for Impulse! in the early 1970s, including one bona fide classic, The Land of Spirit and Light (1973). Amongst a larger cast of characters, that disc featured bassist Cecil McBee and percussionist Kenneth Nash, with whom White reunites on Voices, his first disc as a leader in nearly ten years.

This is a considerably more eclectic and ambitious project than White's more intimate duet with guitarist Bill Frisell, Motion Pictures (Intuition, 1995). Alongside Nash and McBee, guitarist Timothy Young and vocalist Leisei Chen work through a program of White originals, one standard and one free improvisation that demonstrate just how malleable White's instrument of choice can be.

The violinist's tone has always been curiously fragile, bowing so lightly at times as to feel as if it's moments away from breaking apart. On the opening "Message from the Sky," White and Chen improvise freely in ways more textural than melodic. The piece is marked by overdubbed percussion and lengthy dynamic ebbs and flows, with White exploring harmonics and Chen evolving long drones. The free play continues into the beginning of "Circumambulation," but McBee, Nash and Young join in the spontaneity until Young brings focus with a softly strummed 9/8 pattern, anchoring the group while White delivers the first real theme of the set. Avoiding the confines of the traditional rhythm section, Nash moves between assorted hand percussion under McBee's full-bodied arco solo. Young, best known as Zony Mash's guitarist, is the perfect blend of folksy roots and modal exploration, working in both capacities as an accompanist and Frisell-informed soloist.

If the gentler "Circumambulation" suggests roots in Coltrane's modality, then "Jeff''s Place"? brings it into clearer focus with the more overt swing of McBee's firm walk and Nash's blend of kit and hand percussion. Other than the late Zbigniew Seifert, nobody but White has taken the lessons learned from Coltrane and moved them so organically to the violin.

But Voices doesn't restrict itself to extended modal improvisation. The bossa-inflected "Serenade" finds Young on classical guitar and Nash back on hand percussion, with White doubling Chen's wordless vocals. "Mechanical Man" is an altogether more jagged affair - despite solid rhythmic support, the harmonies are more skewed, the lines more angular. The one standard, "My One and Only Love," proves that White's vision is broad indeed, and that despite his more experimental aesthetic, he's got clear roots in the jazz tradition.

Ending with two diametrically-opposed tunes - the open-ended tone poem "Rose Moon" and the joyfully upbeat "Fiesta Domincal" - White's eclecticism does not lack focus. Voices may come from a variety of places, but at its core is White, whose own vulnerable voice remains one of the more distinctive in jazz violin.
- John Kelman, All About Jazz

"Interview with Michael White: Voices and Time"

Every now and then I'll bump into Michael White somewhere in Seattle. We'll instantly talk about music: the scene, the cats, projects and ideas... Michael has been in France or somewhere out of the country. Always a smile and that glow in his eyes representing the secret campsites of the soul that made music, that experienced and created special music. The place where memories gather around on humble knees to warm their hands in truth. That is how I feel whenever crossing paths with this humble man.

Being the one among musicians and geniuses of the road, Michael White's career covers an invaluable map, a birthright of that special American invention: the jazz musician. The modern ones of decades come and gone who have been too many, too briefly, here on Earth with us to undermine what he's given through an instrument that has been here since the very inception of jazz.

Too often, the victims of loneliness, hearts broken by a society that has dismissed them, the saga of the jazz artist is just only beginning to be told while world music? and technical substitutes for study of scales and theory, speed past the craft masters and life-determined stylists like Michael. The price of putting their humanity into their instruments being dismissed as one would disavow the essence of the creative voice, estrangle the artists' ability to create and survive in a healthy state from the faster way to material gain in the name of commerce. The "hit record" is more dangerous a drug than any substance.

We'll talk with faith in our spirit about those who still play but are mostly forgotten. We'll reflect if time in passing allows, about those beautiful monsters who set bandstands on fire with their virtuosity and creative spirit. Yeah, we'll talk about the cats: the depth of their gifts and personalities. And then we'll go on our way.

This night, at the newest room supposedly for such practitioners, I got a chance to see, hear, and talk with this foremost, and brave, and tender violinist. Michael was only briefly in town after recently moving to Japan. Like Mahogany wood, he is solid stock. He is no pretender or image-driven artist. Like the bridge of his violin, Michael lifts his eyes, as he might his bow, to strike a vibration and, in a sincere voice speak to the audience. Warmly informing us of what is about to be played. Perhaps something about the composer, or some small muse about the inspiration of the musical piece. This is his character, as real as his music. But before the set ends, I notice something. Something felt different.

A duet. Timothy Young, the baddest guitarist in this realm, played with Michael as if their ears had the same eyes. Note for rhythm, rhythm for note, trains switching tracks and stations arriving before junctions meet. On time - always on time! I was excited to see them not just because I dig them as musicians and people, but because I'd just written about Michael's new and poignant recording, Voices (Izniz, 2004).

I quietly hoped to hear something from the beautiful, moving recording on which Timothy is cast with a pair of golden travelers of the mentioned celestial covered campsites: Cecil McBee and Kenneth Nash. Yes, this record is a precious reunion. I'd seen Nash and McBee playing many a night, more than many moons ago, when clubs didn't close at 2am, and the music was powerfully spiritual. But, like all great music, recordings can never give you what the live experience can.

A certain calm (not to be confused with mellowness), a deeper cut into the mahogany, the bow making notes from the heart come down like maple sap squeezed from some enchanted tree. Inside out... The beat there rippling... between the quake and the wail of the guitar and violin strings. Like still waters, melodiously deep. I've heard the masterful violinist play many times over the years... the decades, but rarely with such tranquil swing.

I asked him about this reverie which I felt from his bandstand; a joyful reception for the silk and tea his music was. He smiled, and without hesitation revealed to me what the solace was, what I perceived. He'd fallen in love! He'd just been married. The bride being the artist singing on Voices, Leisei Chen. Relaxed, I pursued his calm and usual warm nature, asking about his roots. (Like I said, we always talk about time and place.) He told me a story that turned out to be one of those small, unaccountable revelations proving that there's no such thing as an accident, something the detectives of the most celebrated improvisational music on Earth understand more than most.

He had grown up in Oakland, California. This episode had to be told: stealing his father's car so he and his best buddy, Earl Freeman, could drive to Los Angeles to see Clifford Brown and Max Roach. He told it as colorfully, intricately as he plays, building upon the exciting event without needing to mention the significance of seeing the wonderful trumpeter and immortal drummer. The glory behind the plot is a given, like the glory behind the music. It turns out that Earl, a classically trained bass player, had become a dear associate of mine when I lived in California. One of the first cats there when my sons were born. When I told this to Michael, we both laughed in disbelief. So he went on to tell me about how he and Earl studied the European classics; how he'd turned Earl on to modern jazz. Michael has the kind of laugh only special souls have: the kind that makes you want to laugh, to get closer to it, to know more, to touch the writing on the walls of their hearts.

Michael White's violin is a rare treasure that the ordinary miner ain't apt to find, no matter their secret map or how deep they dig; like the unique player that plays for the people, is hospitable with the people, giving of spirit and the voice of the violin to the people. I'd venture to say there are those special few who get to know, and others who never really know. The mystery being the beauty. We talked some more, but this night, he played some more brilliant violin, like all unplanable nights, was good to the last. Came back for the second night, and then he was gone to Japan.

Paul Harding: Time... well, is there really such a thing? Where and how you are. How many miles (distance and this thing called time) of violin. Violining. Say "it seems like yesterday" we were talking about time... and Earl Freeman, Oakland Sonny Simmons, that story about you taking your father’s care down to LA to see Max and Clifford. How spiritual the connection: you growing up with Earl; me knowing him as "the general."?

Michael White: Along with my early classical training, I was always around great Jazz artists. My best childhood friend was Earl. We listened to Jazz all day every day from elementry thru high school. I also played a little trumpet at that time.

PH: Japan. Tell me. Are you making music there? What's it like through the eyes of your strings? Effect on how your bow bows?

MW: Yes! I am making music in Japan. My wife Leisei Chen and I have a band called "Serenade." People here in Japan are very jazz conscious, very knowledgeable and you hear Jazz everywhere in all venues. I consider my whole body as a part of my violin and bow. What I think, hear and feel is spontaneously reflected into music.

PH: And Voices. Something very special inspired the heart and order of this new record. I think I saw it in a calm in your eyes straight to your hands, touch and sound the Sunday night's second set. Were you conscious of any change? Time, mode? Maybe just being here... Seattle, the states? A knowing of goodbye and place in time in heart...(roots) here?

MW: This is a very inspired time for me in my personal life and musical life. My cup runneth over, so to speak. I am free to listen to my inner voice and act spontaneous to what I discover.

PH: Recording. Always a thing that I want to talk to musicians about. The setting, the cats, the music, of course, (time being money in a studio). Voices was a reunion for you. McBee and Nash... would you share what that was like?

MW: I had a vision of this recording with Cecil and Kenny for long time. And this just happens to be a 30-year reunion for us. It was a thing of beauty, love, and giving for all of us. Leisei and Tim Young along with (recording engineers) Randall (Dunn) and Mel (Dettmer). We became a family. I trust that this vibration will reflect in the music.

PH: Instrumentation. After decades of being one of the few violin voices through at least two decades of major changes in the music (let's say between Hard Bop and Free), how might you describe the more world-open sounds/attitudes towards instrumentation, especially your instrument?

MW: Communication in all forms is bringing people together. The violin being so close to the human voice is beginning to emerge at this time.

PH: The trio format is not new to you. I remember the third stream? and have seen and heard you with the guitar before and dug it. In your new setting and life, where and how do you perceive a musical group?

MW: I am open to all instrumentations. However, at this time it is violin, voice, guitar, bass, and percussions.

PH: Let's go back and ahead at the same time, okay? Your beginnings with the violin and the excitement of an era where innovators were alive, peaking and trailblazing. As an artist how do you see the horizon from the shoreline of your footprints? I enjoy Paul Rucker's History of an Apology and wonder if that recording experience had any significance in relationship to today that you'd share.

MW: I really enjoyed recording with Paul and all of those other fine musicians. I see vast musical frontiers ahead with rivers to cross and mountains to climb.

- Paul Harding, Earshot Jazz

"Review - CD "Voices""

On his latest release, a too-much overlooked artist revisits a too-much overlooked masterpiece from over thirty years ago.

For over forty years, Michael White, one of improvised music's greatest violinists, re-teams with two old friends to give us Voices. In 1973, bassist Cecil McBee and percussionist Kenneth Nash joined White on the fine Impulse! release "The Land of Spirit and Light." Thirty years later, these same fine musicians came together to record new material, along with a cut from that album, Fiesta Dominical.

"Voices" starts with a very calming, yet attention-grabbing, improvisation for violin, voice and percussion. Some may be put off by Leisei Chen's vocal stylings, but those who allow themselves to be transported will be rewarded. "Circumambulation" follows in much the same vein, reminding one of some of John McLaughlin's acoustic work with the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Cecil McBee plays an arco solo that reminds us why he has long been one of jazz's most sought-after bassists. After bass and percussion have had their say, guitarist Timothy Young acquits himself well on a meditative chorded solo.

"Jeff's Place" swings lightly, taking us farther into White's past, in a remembrance of a favorite uncle's bar. This cut breaks up the solemnity of all that has come before with good-humored solos from Young, McBee, and White.

White dedicates the romantic bossa-nova "Serenade" to his wife Leisei, and her singing provides mellow foundation. The violinist once again shows his sense of humor on "Mechanical Man," which he describes as a love story with more terrific guitar from Young.

The past gets another look on the standard "My One and Only Love." The band next delineates "Rose Moon," a Heavenly Body that is rarely seen, with an improvised duet of bass and violin accompanied by percussion flourishes, before ending the album with the remake of "Fiesta Domenical."

With the release of "Voices" and the re-release of "The Land of Spirit and Light" on Verve, let's hope Michael White ceases to be one of the great overlooked artists in jazz, and gets the audience he deserves. - Rob Johnson, Jazz Review


2011 CD "Spirit Dance" Impulse! SHM-CD reissued : UMG in Japan
2010 CD "White Night" Elektra reissued : Wounded Bird Records
2010 CD"X-Factor" Elektra reissued : Wounded Birds Records
2006 CD "Voices" IZNIZ Recordings
2006 CD "Pnema" Impulse! reissued : UMG in USA
2005 CD "Land Of Spirit And Light" LPR Impulse! reissued : UMG in Europe & USA
2005 CD "Pneuma" LPR reissued by Impluse! : UMG in Japan

BBC Radio1 Giles Peterson London, England
RADIO X 91.8/ 99.85 FM Frankfurt, Germany
Stylin 3RRR FM Melbourne, Australia
CHUO 89.1 FM Ottawa, Canada
CJSR 88.5 FM Alberta, Canada
CHYZ 94.3 FM Québec, Canada
CKCU 93.1 FM Ottawa, Canada
WAER 88.3 FM Syracuse, NY
KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles, CA
KSBR 88.5 FM Mission Viejo, CA
KBCS 91.3 FM Bellevue-Seattle, WA
KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle, WA
KBOO 90.7FM Portland, OR
WMEB 91.9 FM Orono, ME
WPKN 89.5 FM Bridgeport, CT
KMUW 89.1 FM Wichita, KS
WBGU, 88.1FM Bowling Green, OH
KMXT 100.1FM Kodiak, AK
WGVU 88.5/95.3 FM Grand Rapids, MI
WDBX 91.1FM Carbondale, IL
WHCJ 90.3FM Savannah, GA
Lagniappe Broadcast Network
Pensacola Live365
Cybro Radio
Blue Beam Radio
Free Fall Radio
Soulville Radio Show

And additional airplay in the following countries: Switzerland, Australia, Austria, Finland, Ireland and the UK, Japan, Croatia, Germany, Greece, and Hong Kong.



Michael White is a composer, educator, innovator, and major recording artist formerly on Impulse and Elektra/Asylum records. He has played alongside musical giants including John Coltrane, Sun Ra, and Stevie Wonder, among many others. In 2010, Michael White was honored for his outstanding achievements as a jazz violinist and received certificates of recognition from the United States Congress, the California Legislature Assembly and the City Of Los Angeles declaring him a "Living Legend." This year, the Michael White Quintet: Unit 2 was added to the Los Angeles County Arts Commission's prestigious Musician Roster.

White's recent release, "Voices," received praise from jazz critics as well as awards from the International Songwriting Competition and Independent Music Awards. Songs from the album were featured on the PBS documentary "Road Trip Nation." Released at the same time as Verve's re-release of his album "The Land of Spirit and Light," the album "Voices" connects White's past body of work to his current creative endeavors, and prompted the formation of the Michael White Quintet. Says White of the group's philosophy, "The cornerstones of our music are 'Love, Healing, Inspiration and Hope.' Our sound is intended to touch one's heart and fill one's body with a 'kozmic groove'!"

The Michael White Quintet:Unit 2 keeps that buoyant spirit intact. It combines Unit 1's members, including soulful vocalist Leisei Chen and versatile guitarist Timothy Young with accomplished LA-based musicians Jon Ossman on bass (Paula Cole, Marc Cohn), and Danny Frankel on percussion (K.D. Lang, Bebel Gilberto).With each member a true musical master in his or her own right, the quintet bridges cultures, genres, and backgrounds, for a sound that lives up to its intention: to be ageless, timeless, and borderless.

The Michael White Quintet:Unit 2 is available for international engagements and tours, festivals, concerts, master classes, workshops, and multimedia projects.

* 2011 Michael White Quintet: Unit 2 addition to Los Angeles County Arts Commission's Musician Roster
* 2010 "Living Legend" Certificate of Recognition from US Congress, CA Legislature Assembly and the city of Los Angeles
* 2007 Winner in The 6th Annual Independent Music Awards (IMAs)
* 2006 Second Place Winner in The International Songwriting Competition (ISC)
* 2006 Honorable Mentions-Session 1 in The John Lennon Songwriting Contest (JLSC)
* Voice of America Radio New Star Awards
* Down Beat Magazine Award for Talent Deserving Wider Recognition
* Faculty member of the Cornish College of The Arts

Michael White has appeared in San Francisco, as a special guest with The John Coltrane Quartet, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Gallison, Elvin Jones, along with Wes Mongomery and Eric Dolphy, Joe Bonner, Richard Davis,Henry Grimes, Tootie Heath, Philly Joe Jones (band), Rasaan Roland Kirk (band), Herbie Lewis, Buddy Montgomery, Eddie Moore, Phineas Newborn Jr., Odean Pope, George Szabo, Lonnie Liston Smith, McCoy Tyner, Alice Coltrane, Joe Henderson, John Handy, Sonny Simmons, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins.

Montreux Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Berkeley Jazz Festival, Pacific Coast Jazz Festival, FESTAC Multi-Arts Festival (Lagos, Nigeria), Newport Jazz Festival Violin Summit (with Ray Nance and Jean Luc-Ponty), Eddie Moore Jazz Festival (San Francisco, California), San Francisco Jazz Festival (Fourthway Reunion)

Band Members