Dr. Michael White is one cool guy. An alum of both Xavier and Tulane universities, he’s taught Spanish at Xavier for more than 20 years, adding African American music to his instructional repertoire in 1988. And there’s his clarinet.
Blue Crescent, Dr. White’s newest release, brings about the nostalgic sounds of Louis Armstrong’s big brass jives, mixing in soft hymnals, as well as White’s hip clarinet stylings. Guest musicians include local favorites Gregory Stafford (trumpet, vocals), Dwayne Burns (trumpet), Detroit Brooks (banjo, guitar, vocals) and Jason Marsalis (drums).
Roy Young’s Jazz Fest 2008 debut came just in time for the release of his first album Memphis. What’s interesting about Young’s music is his experimentation with genre; the instrumentals change tempo from song to song, including Latin, blues, rock, folk and soul tunes. While his variety keeps the listener attentive, he’s most successful on the somber, bluesy tracks, wherein Young’s voice may remind listeners of the guttural, soulful resonance of Tom Waits.
Humor l Written in a style not unlike that of one of my all-time favorite ladies, the late Ms. Erma Bombeck, Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties: An Entertaining Life (with recipes) by Julia Reed includes anecdotes, life lessons and nostalgic recipes. Reed relays her knowledge of culinary and social graces with humor, sharing an updated look at ladylike entertaining for the new (if it’s still considered new) millennium.
Nonfiction l New Orleans Magazine’s own Ian McNulty shares his diary with the world in A Season of Night, a Katrina retrospective. The book, drawn largely from personal correspondence (see photos at www.seasonofnight.com) is a journal of sorts detailing McNulty’s experiences returning to his Mid-City neighborhood after the storm. The author describes his book as filling a niche not covered by other Katrina memoirs, saying the book describes “the aftermath and the homecoming rather than the actual shock of the disaster.”
Children’s Nonfiction l For your edifi-Cajun, Shane K. Bernard, historian and author of TABASCO: An Illustrated History, drops some knowledge once again in Cajuns and Their Acadian Ancestors: A Young Reader’s History.
The book details, briefly, important periods of Cajun history, interspersed with photos and topical (e.g. swamp pop, surnames, and Cajun vs. Creole) articles, and though it’s packed with facts, short chapters and age-appropriate vocabulary keep the text within the reach of young readers.