Jazz CD round-up

Dave Gelly on Dr Michael White, Dancing in the Sky; Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Buhaina's Delight

Dr Michael White, Dancing in the Sky (Basin Street Records BSR 0503-2)

A New Orleans native and frequent collaborator with Wynton Marsalis, Dr White (of Xavier University) plays clarinet in the old style. After a shaky start, he has evolved into an engaging and curiously original artist. He writes much of his own mate rial, still employing instruments such as banjo and sousaphone, and succeeds in capturing the delightful mixture of jocularity and dignity that distinguishes the music of the old New Orleans masters. The light, dancing beat of the rhythm section and the bright, incisive tones of the brass, especially trumpeter Nicholas Payton, make the whole thing irresistible. White's approach is still rare in American jazz. It is doubtful whether he would have got this far without the patronage of Marsalis, for which we should all be grateful.

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Buhaina's Delight (Blue Note 578 725 2)

Among its many incarnations over 45 years, the six-piece Messengers of the early Sixties was one of the most outstanding. The presence of the young Wayne Shorter, as both saxophonist and main composer, lent the band a special distinction and made this one of the classic hard-bop albums of all time. Just listen to his 'Reincarnation Blues' for proof. Although the main emphasis is still on improvisation, Shorter's compositions often employ full-band passages as a frame for each soloist. With Freddie Hubbard's trumpet and Curtis Fuller's trombone, the ensemble sound is full and rich, while Cedar Walton and Jymie Merritt make a superb piano and bass team around Blakey's drums. This meticulously remastered edition contains several alternate takes.

To order Dr White for £13.99 or Art Blakey for £7.99, call the Observer Music Service on 0870 836 0713. Prices include p&p

Dave Gelly

The GuardianTramp

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