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Dr. Michael White's Time Machine

Derek Bridges

What do you hear when Dr. Michael White plays his clarinet?

Can you hear the bayou? The river? The French Quarter? People sitting on their stoops waiting for someone to deliver the news? Penny parties?

That's not a clarinet in the doctor's hands; it's a time machine.

Credit Derek Bridges / Flickr

"I listened to Johnny Dodds' recordings. I listened to Sidney Bechet. I listened to George Lewis. I listened to Edmond Hall. I listened to Omer Simeon, Barney Bigard, and so many others," White says. "And you listen to that and you say, 'Wow, I would like to capture that feeling.'"

And he has. And he's captured the spirit of a city with his clarinet.

"It seemed to be historic," White says, "but at the same time — timeless."

The talented clarinetist has spent a career in the classroom and on the bandstand making sure generations of audiences hear what he hears.


Quite a bit of the music heard this hour is available for you to stream to your desktop or mobile device. Or, here's a complete playlist [.pdf] for you to take with you to the record store.

For more on Dr. Michael White, including a gallery of photos, or to browse the archive of past shows, visit Follow MIO on Twitter where we're @MusicInsideOut.

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Gwen Thompkins is a New Orleans native, NPR veteran and host of WWNO's Music Inside Out, where she brings to bear the knowledge and experience she amassed as senior editor of Weekend Edition, an East Africa correspondent, the holder of Nieman and Watson Fellowships, and as a longtime student of music from around the world.