Michael White

Spirit Dance

Universal Sound • 2013

A formidable yet unknown jazz-violinist of his time – Michael White didn’t have to hide behind the renowned fiddlers when it came to musical expressiveness. His debut, »Spirit Dance«, and the four following records were released on Impuls! and thereby stood on the best grounds to make long- and short-waves between the East coast and West coast. And yet he remained unsuccessful. Maybe it was because the hype for spritual jazz was already dying down at the beginning of the wild seventies and because everything introverted was looking for new ways to break out. It was the days of fusion-jazz, a wagon on which Michael White also jumped by creating the combo The Forth Way together with Ron McClure and Mike Nock. However, he didn’t quite manage to escape the long shadows of Jean Luc Pony and Don »Sugar Cane« Harris. If the gentlemen around Mr. Brunner-Schwer and Mr. Behrendt hadn’t already taken the two above-mentioned musicians and John Handy on board, White’s mix of indo-jazz and African-based blues and gospel would surely have been a most welcome addition to the MPS-world-jazz-series. As a musician, he used to demand quite a lot from his listeners – his violine is the only instrument operating in the upper frequency spectrum. When improvising freely and almost escalating, like on »John Coltrane Was Here«, it gets quite intense, even intrusive, dangerously close to falling on deaf ears. Not to mention the general absence of a drummer. Of course, there’s Kenneth Nash, who pulls out all the stops on his percussions so that the intro to »The Tenth Pyramid« itself could have easily served as a track on its own. But then again, his LPs are so packed with virtuosity that there’s just too much tinkering to establish a solid overall impression. The children’s vocals on »Praise Innocence« are therefore just the right finish to relax your head and your ear-drum. It’s hard to not at least smile at the end – however, that’s almost all that is left for me.