August 3, 2009

Peter White - Good Day

So, there I am, rolling along the highway, coming up on my exit while listening to my advance copy of the upcoming Peter White CD, Good Day, and I completely missed the exit—so into what was emanating from my car speakers: One of the best “returns” I’ve heard in years-- Peter White back from several years of covers to the splendor of original material as only he can render. This is truly a beckoning to all smooth jazzers to return to the Peter White of the 90s and early 2000s, to recall the images and good feeling his originals always conjured up. It is all here in abundance. Those of us who have waited for the guitar master’s fascination with covers (great though they were) to subside a bit and for his return to that which fascinated us so fully over the years will definitely not be disappointed. The wait, the patience, and the undying allegiance to the man who has always offered contemporary jazz acoustic guitar with so much color and flair have truly paid off in immeasurable manner, and that's no overstatement. True, I have always admired the effortless, silky skills of the Londoner, but anyone who’s into real smooth or contemporary jazz will have to admit to the appeal of this one.

With guest appearances by Philippe Saisse (who appears on all but the last three tracks) and Basia, each tune here has legs of its own. No fillers. Each melody carries its own signature, each hook its own bite. From the flavorful title (and opening) track with its funky emphasis on solid bass lines, percussion, and rhythm to “Bright,” his rousing tribute to our fallen brother, Wayman Tisdale, to the Latin-flavored “Ramon’s Revenge” and beyond, the British gentleman again dazzles with melody, style, and grace, proving once again why he is such an integral component of the contemporary jazz engine.

By the way, “Ramon’s Revenge,” which just happens to be one of—and I stress one of-- my favorites here, has a marvelous little tale that comes with it. It seems that White viewed this piece as one with epic cinematic quality that tells the tale of two rival Spaniards vying for the affections of the same woman. “In the end,” White states, “I imagine Ramon riding away on his horse with his girl, who has come back to him after leaving his rival in the dust.” Realizing that the tune has no lyrics to bear this out, White then smiles and adds that listeners are welcome to make up their own version. Well, guess what, Peter? Your version works extremely well for me. My mind’s eye immediately captured that image and totally endorsed it. Of course, it doesn’t hurt the imagery when the last sound you hear in the piece is that of a galloping horse.

The final track, “Say Goodnight,” speaks volumes as it appears to quiet things down a bit and ask listeners to reflect on what just transpired here.

Peter White fans—and just general lovers of great contemporary jazz—have waited for this one for years (and it has been years in the making, according to White). The wait will be over on September 8 as Peak Records sends this one forward to charm jazzers as only Peter White can charm them. I think a hearty “Thank you” is in order. That’s my take, and so as not to miss the obvious opportunity: Have a Good Day!

Posted by Ronald Jackson at August 3, 2009 11:04 PM