Andrew White, a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and jazz scholar who ran a one-man music-publishing shop from the basement of his Washington home with idiosyncratic verve, died Nov. 11 at an assisted-living center in Silver Spring, Md. He was 78.
The cause was a heart ailment and complications from a stroke, said his cousin William Covington.
White, who played the oboe, saxophone, bass and other instruments, performed and recorded for more than five decades. Most of that time was spent as proprietor of his label, Andrew White's Music Publications, with a catalogue that included vinyl records, CDs, books and more than 1,000 transcriptions, including hundreds of John Coltrane's saxophone solos.
White was a freshman at Howard University when he formed and led the J.F.K. Quintet in 1960. Named after the newly elected president, John F. Kennedy, the group performed regularly at the Bohemian Caverns nightclub in Washington.
The J.F.K. Quintet, which featured Mr. White on alto saxophone, released two albums - "New Jazz Frontiers From Washington" (1961) and "Young Ideas" (1962) - filled mostly with up-tempo, buoyant instrumentals. In interviews over the years, he said he received compliments from saxophonists Cannonball Adderley and Eric Dolphy but that his jazz ambitions stalled, and the J.F.K. Quintet disbanded in 1963.
"My whole career started out with a severe handicap, which is, I was told very early on that I had no commercial viability," he told the publication Jazz Times. "My saxophone sound has too much resonance in it, and I was told it would not register well on recording tape, so I couldn't make good records - and they wouldn't even know what to do with the records anyway. So I've been off in the corner ever since. But nobody ever said I couldn't play."
White graduated from Howard in 1964 with a degree in music theory, left for France to study oboe at the Paris Conservatory and embarked on an eclectic career.
He played oboe for the American Ballet Theatre in New York in the late 1960s and, as an electric bassist, had lucrative gigs as a sideman for Stevie Wonder and the 5th Dimension vocal group. He also toured with drummer Elvin Jones's Jazz Machine and recorded with pianist McCoy Tyner, the fusion group Weather Report and the Supremes, among others.
Looking to expand and maintain control over his creativity output, he founded his music-publication business in 1971. He self-produced more than 40 albums of his music, encompassing contemporary jazz, classical oboe, funk, and rhythm and blues. He self-published his 800-page autobiography, "Everybody Loves the Sugar," as well as treatises on music, educational manuals and his original compositions and transcriptions.
He remained a mix of astute businessman and confirmed "oddball," highlighting to visiting journalists the office-basement he proudly covered with pornographic images of women and the peculiar recordings he made for any paying customer. One, "Far Out Flatulence: A Concerto for Flatulaphone," was nearly an hour's worth of his gas - a bespoke album, he told Jazz Times, for a client who had requested it.
Andrew Nathaniel White III was born in Washington on Sept. 6, 1942, and he grew up in Nashville, where his AME minister father became a prominent civil rights activist in the 1960s and later served as president of the NAACP chapter.
White took piano lessons as a child and received a soprano saxophone at 8 as a gift from an uncle. As a youth, he taught himself to transcribe the records of saxophonist Charlie Parker, trumpeter Miles Davis and others while composing his own music.
His wife of 41 years, the former Jocelyne Uhl, died in 2011. He had no immediate survivors.
"I've never developed a commitment to music - I'm just made that way," Mr. White told Washington Post jazz critic W. Royal Stokes in 1982. "But that's the way it's supposed to be, you see, because music is supposed to be for the love of music. When you start making a job out of it, it gets hard."