Peter White Brings His Acoustic Guitar Sounds To Some Retro Pop Classics With The New CD “Playin’ Favorites” For Columbia/Legacy - In Stores June 27, 2006
Over the past 16 years, as Peter White has kept thousands of smooth jazz fans worldwide enthralled by his spirited melodies, soulful grooves and inviting, instantly recognizable acoustic guitar tone, he’s always had a blast finding unique ways to bring his modern sensibilities to cherished pop classics. Thanks to the smooth jazz format’s affinity these days for instrumental cover songs, two of White’s incredible 13 #1 Radio & Records airplay hits have become enduring staples of the format. White recently sparked a rekindling of the retro flame that inspired him to once again start Playin’ Favorites on his latest disc for Columbia/Legacy, in stores on June 27, 2006.
In the spirit of his passion for retro tunes, White mines the deeper romantic and soulful vibes of songs from the past 40 years that millions know from the playing of their first notes. These include hits composed or popularized by Burt Bachrach (“The Look of Love”), Dionne Warwick (“Déjà vu), Van Morrison (“Crazy Love”), Bill Withers (“Lovely Day”), Bobby Hebb (“Sunny”), The Isley Brothers (“For The Love Of You”), Ray Charles (a finger snapping version of “Hit The Road Jack”), The Stylistics (“You Are Everything”) and Hall & Oates (“One On One”). Playin’ Favorites also includes performances from fellow smooth jazz greats Boney James (“Déjà vu”), White’s recent “Jazz Attack” tour-mates Richard Elliot, Rick Braun and Jonathan Butler, and R&B legend Jeffrey Osborne (“You Are Everything”).
White will tour the U.S. this summer with the “Guitars & Saxes” all-star shows where his fans will enjoy a medley of Grover Washington, Jr.’s “Mister Magic” and Playin’ Favorites’ first single, a brassy, sensual lite-funk twist on Jr. Walker’s “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love).” On the recording, White plays the song’s familiar melody on his acoustic guitar in a call and response style with saxman Sam Riney (who last played with White on Reflections). Veteran producer (and longtime White collaborator) Paul Brown’s arrangement of “Mister Magic” includes a crunchy, modern hip-hop groove, sizzling horns, the flute of Dave Camp (an old cohort of White’s from the Al Stewart band) and a special, retro-cool performance by legendary keyboardist Bob James on Fender Rhodes.
White says, “I had the idea to do another collection of these kinds of songs after going through some old tapes and finding these demos along with a dozen or so songs that never made it to that CD. I had honestly forgotten that there were any outtakes from those days. ‘For The Love Of You’ was one of those unused songs that sounded good to me, so I wondered if just maybe there was a whole other album waiting to be made, that could be a follow up to Reflections. Now just as then, the hard part is to keep the flavor of the original songs while fitting it into my style and making it mine. I want my versions to be able to stand on their own.”
“Once I sit down at the keyboard to work on this,” he adds, “coming up with the arrangement is a very natural, instinctive process . On ‘For The Love Of You’, for instance, I wanted to funk up the beat, make the ballad very danceable. Funny thing is, I did the opposite on my version of ‘Who’s That Lady?’, substituting their frantic all-out rock and roll blitzkrieg for a much gentler approach. This idea—to take a well known song and do it in a different way—permeates the music on Playin’ Favorites.”
Just as White started putting together tracks based on the old arrangements on tape, it was time to hit the road for one of Summer 2005’s biggest smooth jazz tours, “Jazz Attack,” with old friends Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler and Richard Elliot. Not missing a beat, the guitarist packed his laptop and a mic and continued working on tracks in his spare time. He quickly took advantage of this great opportunity to include his tourmates on his latest work in progress. “I ambushed Richard backstage at the Carefree Theatre in West Palm Beach, Florida and had him play a verse of ‘You Are Everything’ on my improvised laptop studio,” White says. “He had never played the song before and I tried to reassure him by saying that it was just an experiment, to see what the sax would sound like on this song. I loved his tender, introspective approach. I kept his second run through for the final mix.”
Backstage at the North fork Theatre in Westbury, Long Island, he caught Braun with a flugelhorn in his hand and invited his horn playing friend into his makeshift dressing room studio to play on ‘One on One.’ White was so moved by Braun’s impromptu performance that he kept it for the second verse of the song; they finished the rest of the solo a few days later in Milwaukee. Butler later got in on the act, adding his inimitable vocal excitement to the chorus section of “Lovely Day.”
“After the tour ended, I called Paul Brown to help me finish the album,” White says, “and he came forward with a lot of great suggestions for other songs. He also took some of my rough arrangements and made them sparkle with new beats, cool sounds and musical guests I was very excited to have on board. I love the freshness he brought to Playin’ Favorites, which echoes the wonderful work he did on Reflections twelve years ago.” For more information visit PeterWhite.com.Posted by Peter Böhi at June 16, 2006 10:02 PM