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Andrew White, Virtuoso Saxophonist and Coltrane Scholar, Dies at 78

Andrew White, Virtuoso Saxophonist and Coltrane Scholar, Dies at 78
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Andrew White, Virtuoso Saxophonist and Coltrane Scholar, Dies at 78

Andrew White, Virtuoso Saxophonist and Coltrane Scholar, Dies at 78

Andrew White, a profusely gifted and proudly eccentric musician and scholar finest identified in jazz circles for transcribing greater than 800 of John Coltrane’s saxophone solos, died on Nov. 11 at an assisted-living facility in Silver Spring, Md. He was 78.

The trigger was problems of two strokes he had just lately suffered, mentioned Nasar Abadey, Mr. White’s longtime drummer.

Mr. White rightly described himself as a person of “numerous creative presents of extra.” To even gesture on the breadth of his profession would require a half-dozen labels: saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, writer, enterprise proprietor, instructor.

He leaves behind one of many largest troves of self-released recordings, books and musical transcriptions by a single musician in jazz historical past.

Within the Sixties and ’70s, Mr. White performed electrical bass for Stevie Marvel and the fifth Dimension; English horn with Climate Report; oboe within the American Ballet Theater Orchestra; and saxophone in bands led by McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, each former members of Coltrane’s quartet.

However ultimately, settling down in his native Washington, Mr. White targeted his inexhaustible energies on his personal initiatives. On Coltrane’s birthday in 1971, satisfied that the music trade had neither an curiosity in his abilities nor the power to include them, Mr. White began Andrew’s Musical Enterprises Integrated, a label and publishing home that he ran with the assistance of his spouse, Jocelyne White, an elementary-school instructor.

Over an uninterrupted 49-year interval, Andrew’s Music revealed greater than 1,000 transcriptions; greater than 40 LPs of his personal music, working from jazz to funk to classical; and quite a few books, together with “Trane ’n Me” (1981), a well-regarded musicological treatise on Coltrane that was translated into German, and “All people Loves the Sugar” (2001), an 800-page autobiography.

In “Trane ’n Me,” Mr. White feigned humility, then minimize playfully to the chase: “I’ve been dubbed ‘the world’s main authority on the music of John Coltrane.’ They name me that, however I’m too modest to make any such declare; nonetheless, if you wish to pay me, you may name me something you please besides late for dinner.”

Putting an order with Andrew’s Music meant inquiring by telephone, snail mail or fax machine at Mr. White’s Washington house, which he referred to as “the opposite White Home.” Properly into his 70s, he continued to move to the neighborhood publish workplace to mail out typewritten brochures and fulfill orders.

The covers of his books and information had been usually titled in stark black or gold lettering over a white background. E book textual content was typewritten. However the content material bridled with power and humor.

Mr. White was identified to deal with live shows as bodily endurance assessments, and at the least one present on the Prime O’Foolery in Washington lasted for 12 hours straight, carrying out a number of rhythm sections within the course of. He launched most of that efficiency as a reside set, stretched throughout 9 LPs.

Appreciating his music required some fortitude on the listener’s half, too: His improvisations had been brilliantly refined however sonically extreme, with rapid-fire notes popping out in a caustic, bellowing tone. He knew this made him unappealing to report labels — however he didn’t mourn the lack of alternative.

“I’ve at all times been concerned with exploiting all points of what I do,” he instructed The Washington Metropolis Paper in 1996. “I wouldn’t be capable of do this with any report firm, as a result of their factor is to pigeonhole.”

And he welcomed the possibility to remain bizarre. All of his work was touched by a ribald humorousness and a style for absurdity, and he teased the divide between self-promotion and self-parody. He not often stood for {a photograph} together with his tongue in his mouth. As he acquired older, the fits he wore solely grew extra flamboyant.

Within the promotional supplies (self-penned, after all) for “All people Loves the Sugar,” Mr. White promised a ebook filled with “my perennial, suggestive prurience, whole political incorrectness and fiendishly pious irreverence.”

His house workplace, which he delighted in displaying to company, was plastered from ground to ceiling with images of topless ladies. On the request of a purchaser whose girlfriend had a selected kink, Mr. White mentioned, he created an almost hourlong album consisting totally of flatulence.

Andrew Nathaniel White III was born in Washington on Sept. 6, 1942, however grew up in Nashville, the place his father was a minister within the A.M.E. Church and a civil rights activist who went on to function president of the native N.A.A.C.P. chapter.

At 8, Mr. White began on the soprano saxophone, a notoriously tough horn, which induced him to develop his “iron embouchure,” as he instructed JazzTimes in 2001. Earlier than lengthy he was instructing himself to transcribe from recordings of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and others and writing his personal music.

When he began Andrew’s Music within the early Seventies, his Coltrane transcriptions had been among the many first issues he revealed. The primary 5 volumes, totaling greater than 600 solos, got here out in 1973; a duplicate of them is now housed on the library of Syracuse College.

By the point he graduated from highschool he had realized the alto and tenor saxophones in addition to the oboe and upright bass.

He returned to Washington in 1960 to review music principle at Howard College, with a minor in oboe. As a freshman he co-founded the J.F.Okay. Quintet, a contemporary jazz outfit that shortly turned heads.

The group established a Monday-night residency at Bohemian Caverns, the town’s premier jazz membership, the place the viewers usually included jazz luminaries touring by means of Washington. Coltrane and Eric Dolphy, a member of Coltrane’s group on the time, grew to become followers. Cannonball Adderley was so impressed that he helped the quintet get a recording contract with Riverside Information, which launched the group’s solely two albums, “New Jazz Frontiers From Washington” (1961) and “Younger Concepts” (1962).

As musical director, Mr. White’s preparations on these information are a grasp class in the usual hard-bop sound of the day, influenced particularly by the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet and the Miles Davis Quintet. However when he fires up a solo, issues go askew. He unlooses excessive and wobbly notes in sprees, and the tonal heart is thrown off.

Critics in contrast Mr. White’s enjoying to that of Dolphy, one other outré alto saxophonist and multi-reedist, however Mr. White noticed it in another way.

“I don’t have any Eric Dolphy affect,” he instructed JazzTimes. “We had been doing what we had been doing about the identical time.”

“I used to be listening to him discuss whereas he was explaining this scale and his method to utilizing this intervallic idea, and my eyes began bulging,” he continued, remembering a dialog they’d at Bohemian Caverns. “What I used to be considering whereas listening to him is that I used to be working from the very same scale on the similar time. To me it was a coincidence; I’ve instructed this story to different folks, they usually say it’s mystical.”

After school, seeing no industrial future as a straight-ahead jazz musician, Mr. White studied oboe on the Paris Conservatory for a 12 months on a John Hay Whitney Basis grant, then spent two years on the Heart of Inventive and Performing Arts on the State College of New York at Buffalo (now the College at Buffalo). He lived in New York within the late Sixties and early ’70s as his work as a aspect musician picked up, then returned to Washington after marrying Jocelyne Uhl in 1970.

They had been married for 41 years, till her demise in 2011. Mr. White leaves no quick survivors — just some thousand revealed artifacts, spilling with spirit.

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