Jazz Pianist Joshua White Picks Five Favorites

Categories: all that jazz

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Pianist Joshua White seeks the history of the music he loves and layers it into his own sound. His confident delivery and endlessly engaging approach have attracted a fair amount of attention including a second-place finish at the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition in 2011 and constant appearances anywhere between San Diego and Los Angeles on any given night. Tonight, he'll be appearing at the Aliso Creek Inn with bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith. He spoke with us about five of those history-makers who have influenced him the most.

Richard Davis
"Number Two" on Booker Ervin's Space Book (1964)

I became aware of his work through a Booker Ervin record entitled Space Book which also features Jaki Byard on piano and Alan Dawson on drums. Overall, I find his playing very stimulating. His rhythmic choices and how he would break things up into different groupings. He's obviously well aware of the whole tradition. He's well aware of all sorts of music traditions not just Black American music. There's an overall guiding aesthetic with most great players that lead you into finding directions that are most positive in terms of the music. When I hear him play, it always inspires me to keep pushing forward, to think and to learn.

Geri Allen
"Blues In Motian" from Etudes (1988)

I find her music always interesting, always stimulating, always intriguing. There is a light that shines through when she is in the band. Lately, I've been going back and investigating her recordings with a wonderful trio featuring bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Paul Motian. There is always something wonderful happening. There isn't really too much to explain. You just have to listen to the dialogue because that's where I find the music is always found. Sometimes I think there is too much emphasis on arranging and setting up the music. I'm more interested in hearing things develop in the moment instead of having a super developed framework.

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