New Orleans native Dr. Michael White is one of countless musicians who suffered irreplaceable losses from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as flood waters destroyed the musicologist's vast collection of vintage instruments, recordings, sheet music, books, films, original compositions and more. But his attitude is refreshing, as White is happy to have his health and memories, so this CD project obviously serves as part of the healing process for him. A number of New Orleans natives took part in this project, including trumpeter Nicholas Payton, trombonist Lucien Barbarin, bassist Roland Guerin and drummer Jason Marsalis, among others. White's music represents his own reflections of life in New Orleans, incorporating many of the traditions and emotions heard in the music, rather than merely being focused on the storm, as several other projects have. White's free-spirited clarinet is prominent throughout the disc, with the band having the flavor of collectively improvising on many of his themes. "Katrina" begins with storm sound effects, giving way to a percussive funeral cadence and mournful clarinet. But the upbeat "King of the Second Line" signals the desire to party, an essential part of life in New Orleans. The clarinetist's spunky take of W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" will get any crowd on its feet, while the revival of the old hymn "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" sounds as if it could be used in place of "When the Saints Go Marching In" after a traditional New Orleans funeral service. This closer demonstrates the "can-do" spirit of Dr. Michael White as he and fellow Crescent City residents rebuild their lives following the devastation of Katrina.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden