Dr. Michael White and the Original Liberty Jazz Band are among New Orleans’ keepers of the traditional jazz flame.
At the Peoples Health Economy Hall Tent Saturday afternoon, White led his band through a late afternoon set of music that dates to the jazz pioneer days of Louis Armstrong, Bunk Johnson, Johnny Dodds and George Lewis.
An Original Liberty Jazz Band performance often plays out as a disciplined musical ritual. But within the show’s structured format, artistic freedom flies. Between the band’s opening and closing statements, individual members of the group play their distinctive solos.
Solos proceeded from trombonist Lucien Barbarin to trumpeters Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown to Gregg Stafford to White and his clarinet.
Special effects characterized solos in “Perdido Street Blues” -- Stafford and Brown’s softly muted horns, White’s circling patterns, trills and epically sustained single notes.
“Jazz Fest is a very special time for us,” White said later. “We always remember those who are not here with us anymore.”
White dedicated his solo clarinet performance of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” to his late mother as well as trumpeter Lionel Ferbos, the New Orleans musician and Economy Hall regular who died in July at 103. It was an elegiac performance, like a warm memory of that keeps glowing as time goes by.