Making jazz swing in Seventeen syllables AIN'T No square poet's job" -- Etheridge Knight Chip White, a jazz drummer and composer who will bring his working unit to the Kleinert/James Art Center in Woodstock this Saturday, December 11 [2004], by his very nature provides ample evidence that drummers can be groundbreaking composers. White, who has released a book of poetry dedicated to the history of jazz and its prime practitioners, jokingly titled I'm Just the Drummer in the Band, is among those players and writers who strive for jazz's full-bodied swingingness, its danciness, its range of allusion, its trick bag of quicksilver improvisational impulses. Aside from touring with Houston Person on a regular basis, White is fronting his own group, which includes bassist Marcus McLaurine -- on loan from Clark Terry's band -- alto sxophonist and flautist Brad Leali, pianist Keith Saunders, and vocalist Gail Allen. According to White, Allen, who will perform for half the gig and sing a number of the drummer's compositions, will remind listeners of an early Sarah Vaughan and the more contemporary Diane Reeves. Playing with a unique vocal craftsperson is nothing new for him. After all, this is the drummer who occupied that chair with Tom Waits for a few years, and is part of the classic rhythm section that makes Nighthawks at the Diner an absolute masterpiece. That record is really a blend of uber-hipster jazzy spoken word placed over a deeply in-the-pocket swinging groove. Hey, Max did it, Tony Williams did it, Blackey did it, Jack DeJohnette does it and Joe Chambers did it." White is referring to the number of drummers who have also penned jazz composititions that are far from a barely concealed excuse for a drum solo. It turns out that White, like many of those just listed, also plays the piano and vibes. In 1994, White released Harlem Sunset (Postcards 1006), his first effort as a leader. Talk about a band! Gary Bartz, a tragically underrated reedman is on the gig, as is Buster Williams. White explained his overarching process: "Music, for me, is a liberating force, and I want to write and play music that will make people feel better by opening them up to their own thoughts as well as to mine." In the near future, White plans to make a record of his compositions, featuring Ms. Allen and his spoken-word pieces. On Saturday's gig, he will open the show with a sampling of his prose pieces. Get there early; for the best jazz-steeped poetry has an earthy lively quality that one hears in the music. This is literature whose words want to dance, to worry and capture the electrifying notes and lines of Monk's music, or that of Mingus and Coltrane.” - Bob Margolis

— The Woodstock (NY) Times, December 8, 2004