David White is a jazz trombonist, composer & music director based in New York City. David White is the music director of the David White Jazz Orchestra (DWJO) and the owner of Mister Shepherd Records.
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David White is a jazz trombonist, composer & music director based in New York City. He is the music director of the David White Jazz Orchestra (DWJO) and the owner of Mister Shepherd Records. White's had the honor or performing with such notable musicians as Benny Golson, Jon Faddis, Slide Hampton, Jim Pugh, James Weidman, Frank Lowe, Todd Coolman, Valery Ponomarev, Charli Persip, Delfeayo Marsalis, Vicki Yohe, Junior Mance, Rufus Reid, Doc Severinsen and Kenny Burrell.
With the 2011 release of Flashpoint, the debut album by the David White Jazz Orchestra, the trombone-blowing leader and his 16 compatriots served notice on the jazz world of an ensemble that, while steeped in big-band traditions, takes the music in exciting new directions rife with vibrant voicings and rhythmic variety.
“[T]here is an infectious energy that may be the new signature sound in the development of the more contemporary jazz orchestra,” Brent Black stated in his review of Flashpoint for the Critical Jazz web site.
“White clearly knows his jazz history and strikes a perfect balance by incorporating his musical influences while defining his own progressive style,“ Karl Ackermann commented at allaboutjazz.com.
And Aaron Cohen wrote in Down Beat that White “guides his 17-member orchestra through a program of compositions that seamlessly move from extended blues strut (‘I’ll See You in Court’) one moment to soft-focus serenity (‘First Lullaby’) the next.”
Born in Buffalo on January 16, 1979, David White played recorder in the fifth grade, which piqued his interest in music and led him to briefly take up trumpet in the sixth grade before settling on trombone. He played in both the jazz band and concert band in junior high school and was playing professionally by the time he was 14 with a big band at Buffalo’s historic Colored Musicians Club led by baritone saxophonist Macy Favor.
“Macy was an important father figure since I had a single mother and my grandfather had passed,” White says. “You need an adult figure in your life, especially as a young male teenager, to keep you on the straight and narrow. Music was always something that added discipline in my life. There’s the discipline of practicing. There’s the discipline of being in bands, which is more responsibility than a lot of 14-year-olds would have had. And being around older people you learn to conduct yourself as someone who is deserving of respect. I think it made me more serious-minded than I would have been otherwise.”
“It let me get a lot of my trial and error out of the way at an early age,” he adds. “It was tuning my ear to blending with other musicians to playing in a trombone section to balancing the trombone section with the rest of the band.”
White remembers Kenny Burrell and Rufus Reid making guest appearances with Favor’s band while he was a member. He also played jazz during that period in Erie County’s All-County Jazz Ensemble, which also included DWJO bandmates Ryan Cavan and Dan Reitz.
After high school, White spent a year at the University of Buffalo, where he studied with noted classical trombonist Richard Myers, before transferring to the Purchase College Conservatory of Music, from which he would earn Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music. At Purchase he studied with onetime Woody Herman trombonist Jim Pugh and played in the school’s big band, small jazz groups, Latin jazz band, trombone choir, symphony orchestra, brass band, and wind ensemble.
“If there was a trombone in it, I played in it,” he explains. “I wanted to have the widest possible experience.”
White moved to the New York City area in 2003 and currently resides in Queens. He led his own quintet for seven years and has also played with Charli Persip’s big band and Valery Ponomarev’s big band. Since its inception in 2007, the David White Jazz Orchestra has performed at such New York venues as Symphony Space, Garage Restaurant and Café, Tea Lounge, Somethin’ Jazz Club, Saint Peter’s Church, Full Gospel Assembly, The Frick Collection and the American Museum of Natural History. The orchestra’s membership has been, the leader says, “way more stable than I ever anticipated” over the past seven years.
The trombonist cites J.J. Johnson (“the father of us all”), Ray Anderson (“the anti-J.J.”), Slide Hampton, Curtis Fuller, and Grachan Moncur III as influences on his playing and Maria Schneider, Steve Reich, Gerald Wilson, and Thad Jones as being among the composer-arrangers who have most inspired him.
As evidenced by 2011’s Flashpoint 2014's The Chase and now Live at Midday Jazz, David White has become a jazz force to be reckoned with. He’s a wonderfully innovative composer, the leader of a dynamic orchestra filled with brilliant soloists and section players, and a darn good trombone blower to boot. CLICK HERE FOR CONTACT INFO