Jazz Inside Interview with Chip White Born on December 21, 1946, New York City native and always in demand drummer/composer/poet Chip White has performed and/or recorded with a variety of artists, including Carmen MCrae, Jaki Byard, Frank Foster, Jon Faddis, Chet Baker, Bill Hardman, Junior Cook, Claudio Roditi, James Mody, Houston Person, Etta Jones, and many more.  White released a book of over 100 poems dedicated to various jazz musician.  His latest releases as a leader are entitled “Music and Lyrics,” “Double Dedication,” and “More Dedications.”  The first is a collection of his originals sung by Gail Allen, while the Dedications CDs feature original music written for various iconic musicians, along with a second CD featuring White reciting his corresponding poems for these people.  Whit’s bands include Steve Wilson, Randy Brecker, Wycliffe Gordon, Kenny Barron, Ray Drummond, Steve Nelson, Duane Eubanks, Patience Higgins, Mulgrew Miller and Peter Washington.  Following is an excerpt of our extensive interview with White.  To read the complete transcript, subscribe to our quarterly magazine at www.jazzinsidemagazine.com Jazz Inside:  Chip, I’ve been listening to all morning.  I listened to Music and Lyrics, Double Dedication, and More Dedications.  All of the stuff is great, man!  I really enjoyed everything – top notch musicians, the sound quality, the songwriting, and the poems are so educational.  With the poetry, you really do learn a lot of the most important points about these different musicians from the perspective of an insider who may have actually seen, hung out with, or played with these people, and who really has an insightful grasp on what makes these people great. Chip White: Thank you.  I appreciate that.  I’ve been around for a little while so I figured I might as well document it and I think a musician writing about the musicians, with the poetic aspect – some people might be doing it, but I don’t think there are a ton of people doing it,  so hopefully I can carve out my own niche. (Laughs) JI: Sure yes, -- it’s very unique.  I wanted to start by just talking about that.  I kind of wrote out a bunch of questions so I don’t leave anything out, but I think we should start by talking about the collection of Dedications – both the CDs and the book.  Can you talk about where it all began and what the process was like for you from start to finish. CW: Well, some years ago I had written a tune for Duke Ellington and I had written a tune for Lee Morgan and I had started a tune for Billy Strayhorn when I was in Europe at a friend’s house and I just thought well that’s nice, I’m just going to play those along with my personal tunes, and then I was in Japan at a point and I was trying to stay in the hotel room because things were so expensive and so I wrote a couple of poems. I wrote about fifteen poems and I cam back to it and I looked at this little pile and thought that it could actually be a book so I continued with it and completed the book and then I came up with concept of, “Well, since you have some tunes and you have like 100 poems written for these musicians, why don’t you put out a date or maybe two with the concept of the music and the poetry?” and that’s when I really thought, wow, let me sit down and get this together. And with these people, I’ve always listened to their music growing up – I was fortunate enough to see and hear Coltrane and Miles and Monk when I was a kid and so many more, but each artist I would try to capture their ambience by listening to their music and getting into their mood and trying to write sort of in my style and their style, like a combination.  I didn’t’ want to write a tune just like their tunes, but I wanted to give it their ambience so people would say, “Oh wow! Yeah, I see Mingus there, and I understand where Clifford Brown was coming from,” or Booker Little or whatever, so then I said, well you know, if you have good music or great music then you got to have great musicians because that’s going to – you know what I’m saying?! (Laughs)  That was they whole thing – they come in and play your music like it’s their music and that is the greatest compliment when they’ll come in and just – guys like Kenny Barron and Mulgrew Miller and they sitting at the tunes and you can tell they aren’t only enjoying the music, but they are also seeing, “Wow, how did he get that?” and “Wow, he came up with that little lick, and then it was something personal,” and they’re like “Oh I see what he’s doing here!” and once I had that concept, I realized not everyone was doing that, because people do dedications, like they’ll play Joe Henderson’s tunes for him and that’s great, but I thought maybe I could put my own stamp on it by playing my tunes for them in combination with the poetry.  And you know, it helps a lot of people.  I sell a lot of the books jazz cruises, to educators, and even young kids can read these poems and they can put a rap beat to it or something like that, to help tie the generations together, so . .. JI: Sure! CW: So after I did the first one, I thought, well, I got some more, and I always loved Joe Henderson and Booker Little and Clifford Brown, so I started with them.  I always listened to Miles Davis in high school and then all of sudden my music teacher was very hip and he gave me Monk’s Dream and then he gave me Clifford Brown and I said “How come I never heard of Clifford Brown?” and then he said, “Well, he died in this accident, so he wasn’t around long and you couldn’t hear him,” so I realized even as a kid, if you want to find out where you are going, you have to go back and find out where the music is coming from so you can sort of find out where you fit in and where it’s going – try to find the sequence. So that is really how I kind of came up with it and I decided to put it on on two discs and my record guy told me that was really good because some people will only play the music and some people are interested in the poetry, so they’ll play the poetry first and somebody might say, “Oh, Lester Young. Great man! Now I’ll go back and listen to the Lester tune that goes with it and I have some background now.”  Everyone’s not a jazz aficionado and it you want to get people who aren’t to come in and appreciate the music, so it’s great to have compliments from the musicians and your peers, but when you someone who doesn’t know anything about the music and they say they really like it, you know you’ve hit some kind of an emotional place, because they can’t get into it technically, they just like the way it sounds, so that’s what I’m aiming for with all of this.  I tried to put it in some sort of a chronological order, starting with Lester, then Duke and Bird, try to keep a little chronology, but it’s important that the pieces move in the right order too, soundwise, in combination with the chronology of the artists.” - Gary Heimbauer

— Jazz Inside Monthly