Generally, it cannot be truthfully said about jazz bassists that their careers as international diplomats overshadow the negotiations they have conducted in rhythm sections. Ed White may be the notable exception to this, despite his interesting activity during the '50s as a member of the Princeton Jazz Quintet, which hipsters of that era would have quickly identified as the PJQ as opposed to the even cooler MJQ. Teaming up with progressive pianist John Eaton, at that point using the friendlier Johnny, White and several other PJQ bandmates cut a triad of albums for Columbia. One of these was actually entitled Far Out, Near In. Despite the latter fact and the presence of none other than George Avakian as producer of said masterpiece, the résumé of White really picks up steam once he is no longer toting his bass around.
His academic background includes an honors degree in public and international affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School, with a secondary emphasis on Near Eastern studies, then an M.A. at Harvard and two years of studying modern Arabic language and literature in Cairo. White became a deputy country director of the Peace Corps in Iran, subsequently promoted to a director in Libya, Barbados, and Kenya. This was the preface to more than two decades at the United Nations, including postings in New York, Geneva, Iran, Mauritania, and Samoa. But he never stopped playing music completely and would often sit in with local musicians in whatever region of the world he happened to be working in. White speaks Arabic, Swahili, Farsi, Spanish, and French, meaning he is more likely to understand the name of what tune has just been called than the average bassist.