It seems strange that Michael White (no relation to the New Orleans clarinetist of the same name or the funk-oriented drummer) never became better known. A potentially major violinist in the early days of fusion, he managed to successfully avoid becoming famous. White, who was born in Houston, grew up in Oakland. He gained some attention when he was part of the John Handy Quintet that was the hit of the 1965 Monterey Jazz Festival. White recorded three albums with Handy and then formed his own early fusion group Fourth Way, a band that never achieved more than regional fame. In the early '70s, he had opportunities to record with Pharoah Sanders, McCoy Tyner (appearing on Song For My Lady), and Joe Henderson but, despite his obvious talent and his ability to bridge the gap between avant-garde jazz, spiritual music, and rock, White eventually was totally overshadowed by Jean Luc-Ponty. He has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area up to the present time, emerging from obscurity briefly to join in on an unrecorded mid-'90s reunion with the Handy Quintet and a released duet album with Bill Frisell (Motion Picture). Michael White recorded five albums for Impulse as a leader during 1971-1974, but all are long out-of-print.
By Scott Yanow
Courtesy All Music