Chris White


chrissmallBased in Ithaca New York since the mid ’80s, Chris White has been exploring new directions for the cello since the late 1970’s. Whether playing in an intimate duo with piano or guitar, with a jazz string quartet, or with his groups the Cayuga Jazz Ensemble or the Cloud Chamber Orchestra, Chris’ playing has the vibrancy and the urgency of someone who is excited about what he is communicating.

White’s development as a jazz and improvisational cellist has been strongly affected by his guitar studies of folk, rock and jazz during his formative years. These studies were largely self taught, and focused on learning by ear, improvising, experimenting, and studying chords – things which cellists are usually not encouraged to do in traditional study. As he began applying these skills to the cello, he found it to be a wonderfully versatile instrument for playing all kinds of improvised music because he could play melodies, chords, and bass lines.

Chris White has performed in Europe, Canada, North Africa and the United States. While living in Spain for three years in the 1980’s, Chris played in a wide variety of groups including accompanying singer-songwriters, and playing in flamenco, Celtic, and jazz groups. With some of these groups he traveled to other countries and made appearances on Spanish national TV. Chris also played cello in an American made for TV movie called “Lace II” which was partially filmed in Granada where he lived at the time.

chrisingroup Back in the U.S., Chris completed a Master’s Degree in Music Performance at Ithaca College studying with Einar Jeff Holm. Since then he has published articles on the history of jazz cello in STRINGS (Spring ’89) and Down Beat (Feb. ’89).

Chris performed with his jazz quartet at The First World Cello Congress (June 1988) and The Quinzaine de Montreal (April 1992). He also performs regularly as a classical player with The Binghamton (NY) Symphony and frequently free-lances with chamber and jazz groups. An active private cello teacher, Chris is also on the faculty of The Community School of Music & Arts  and Cornell University in Ithaca. He also gives workshops on improvisation for cellists.

Chris feels the time is right for cellists to come together and begin sharing some of the new approaches and styles that cellists like himself are exploring. To this end he founded and directs the New Directions Cello Association & Festival, which maintains a web site, puts out two newsletters a year and organizes an annual festival dedicated to nonclassical cello. Guest artists at the festival have included David Darling, Mark Summer, Matt Brubeck, Eugene Friesen and many others. The Panel of Artistic Advisors for the festival is comprised of David Baker, Ron Carter, David Darling, Yo-Yo Ma, and Julian Lloyd Weber.

chrisbottomChris White’s 2nd solo CD is called “First Principles.” Released in 2003, this CD features Chris with the Cayuga Jazz ensemble. There are four original jazz tunes written by Chris and four by the group’s pianist Eric Hangen. White’s first CD, “Cello Again,” contains studio and live recordings of jazz cello with duos, quartets and quintets recorded between 1988 and 1997. White has produced a book and CD method (1997) for learning to improvise and play jazz cello called “Jazz Cello.” This method is also available for violin and viola, and he is working on volume two of this method. White has also recorded on CDs by many other artists in the US and in Spain.

Chris’ new release is with Cloud Chamber Orchestra. Their CD “GRASS” was released in 2012 and features this unique trio recorded live at the screening of the 1928 documentary “GRASS.” Formed in 2008 to create live improvised music scores for silent film, Cloud Chamber Orchestra has forged a well-earned reputation for creating inventive, deeply textural, often startling improvised music for screenings of silent films.  Drawing from a wealth of musical sensibilities, they fearlessly incorporate incredibly diverse musical styles and employ a wide-range of instruments such as cello, trumpet, baritone horn, electric/prepared guitar, piano, hand percussion, voice, toy instruments, circuit-bending, electronica, atmospheric looping, and tape effects.  Comprised of three well-known veteran musicians (Robby Aceto – guitars, looping and effects, Peter Dodge – piano, trumpet, percussion, etc. and Chris White – cello, looping and effects), their performances are by design, one-time events, never to be repeated.

Chris White is available for concerts, recordings, workshops, and consultations. Send him and e-mail at

Ordering Information: If you would like to find out more about Chris White’s recordings you can go to the “Store” on this website or go to or

For iTunes downloads go to: First PrinciplesChris White and the Cayuga Jazz Ensemble

For mp3 downloads go to: Click Here