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Dr. Michael White's "Adventures in New Orleans Jazz, Part 1" Out 6/21

Basin Street Records is pleased to announce the June 21, 2011 release of Dr. Michael White’s Adventures in New Orleans Jazz, Part 1 (Part 2 will be released in early 2012).  This is the fifth release of Dr. Michael White’s on the Basin Street Records label following A Song for George Lewis, Jazz from the Soul of New Orleans, Dancing in the Sky, and Blue Crescent.

Adventures in New Orleans Jazz is an exciting journey of sound which blends traditional jazz with influences and songs from diverse sources, like Africa, the Caribbean and popular music from the 1960s and 70s.  This idea of converting tunes from other genres into the New Orleans jazz language goes back to early pioneers like Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong – who all contributed their own unique variations of the style.

White has recorded 10 projects under his own name and has participated on over 40 recordings including the latest projects of Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, and Marianne Faithful.

Dr. Michael White is a leading figure in traditional New Orleans Jazz and one of only a few to creatively carry on the rich clarinet sound and style of that city.  He is a descendant of several first generation jazz musicians, including clarinetist Willie Joseph and reedman Earl Fouche.  He studied clarinet with noted band director Edwin Hampton and was a member of the esteemed St. Augustine High School Marching 100 and Symphonic Band.  In line with New Orleans tradition, White began his jazz career by playing for several years in local brass bands for social club parades and jazz funerals.

Among the numerous awards and honors White has received are the French Chevalier of Arts and Letters and the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship Award. In 2010 he was named Louisiana Humanist of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and he also won the Offbeat Magazine Best of the Beat Award as Clarinetist of the Year, and Gambit Magazine’s Big Easy Entertainment Award for Traditional Jazz Artist of the Year.

Basin Street Records is a New Orleans based label that is currently the only label with 3 projects on the Billboard Jazz Chart (printing 5/21/11 #10-Rebirth Brass Band’s Rebirth of New Orleans, #11 Irvin Mayfield’s A Love Letter to New Orleans & #16 Kermit Ruffins’ Happy Talk.

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Download “West African Strut” HERE

Marty Nelson of the original Manhattan Transfer Returns to Performing

It has been more than thirty years since Marty Nelson has performed live.  He returned to the stage last month at Chico’s House of Jazz in Asbury Park, NJ.  His show “A Tribute to Sinatra, plus . . .?” is true to its name. Marty uses his favorite Sinatra hits as the core of his show, but adds many personal touches.

Marty explains how he started as a teenager with the original Manhattan Transfer (Capitol Records) and then went on to produce for Lifesong Records, and eventually became a New York City freelance studio singer.  He performed and recorded with artists that ranged from Frank Sinatra to The Village People to Leonard Bernstein.  He also sang on more than 1,000 national radio and TV commercials – and this is where the “plus . . .” of his show’s title comes into play. Marty was often asked to do solos on commercials that called for a Sinatra “sound,” and he not only gives the audience tasteful renditions of many classic pop/jazz songs, but he also sings some of his better known commercials.  (The audience really enjoyed hearing these memorable jingles.)

As the show develops, Marty reveals more of his creative side with original arrangements of “Black Magic” (based on the Billy Daniels hit) and a version of Minnie the Moocher that features an extended vocal scat where he takes the audience on an improvisational journey, touching on classic rock hits from the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen and more.  He peppers the show with stories about his experiences in the music business and even does an interactive segment with the audience where he brings a person onstage and does an impromptu scat lesson.

His energy is infectious and his intimate soulful ballad renditions draw you in (especially a marvelous version of “Send in the Clowns” where Marty performs it almost entirely with only stand-up Bass accompaniment).

If you are looking for a Sinatra sound-alike lounge review, you won’t get it here.  But if you want an evening of great music with a touch of fun, you’ll really enjoy Marty Nelson’s show.