Friday Favorites 10/4/2013

peter whiteWhen I was in eighth grade, I wanted to learn to play the guitar.    My parents signed me up for a music school in New Haven, CT.    Now this particular music school claimed that they started everyone out on the accordion to teach them the basics of music … they would move us on to our instruments of choice after the introductory period.    I learned to play Row Your Boat, Frere Jacques, and eventually Lady of Spain (of course).   When the introductory period was over, they had no guitar teachers and it cost $600 to buy an accordion and continue.   Thus, the world was denied one of the great classical guitarists.  I remain, however, one of the world’s great fans of guitar music, and not just classical guitar.  My playlists are littered with rock stars like Carlos Santana, jazz guitarists like Wes Montgomery and Earl Klugh, classical guitarists like John Williams and flamenco guitarists like Paco DeLucia and Ottmar Libert.  So, it’s a little surprising that a guitarist hasn’t been a Friday Favorite … until now.

I was a Peter White fan before I even knew who he was.  Back in the late nineteen seventies, I was a fan of Al Stewart, who had modest hits in songs like Time Passages and Year of the Cat.  I was drawn not only by the stories the songs told but by the unique acoustic guitar accompaniment.  Many years later, after I had begun following Peter White as a smooth jazz guitarist, I would discover he was Al Stewart’s guitarist.  He’s featured on this performance of On the Border.

There are many things I like about White’s recording but his unique style is at the top of the list.  He blends a mixture of jazz, rock and classical techniques to a repertoire that is mostly upbeat.  But like many of the flamenco pieces I love, I can hear the sadness hiding in the grace notes.  Listen to this short piece called Desert Night and youi’ll see what I mean. Of all the artists I enjoy, I like Peter White’s smooth jazz versions of rock and roll oldies like Will You Love Me Tomorrow and The Look of Love the best and yet he excels on his own more conventional smooth jazz compositions.  His recordings often feature  solos by members of his band or guest artists, particularly piano and sax.  He is, perhaps, the only smooth jazz artist that I can listen to for hours at a time.  This is his recording of the Dionne Warwick hit, Walk On By, with saxophonist Boney James:

This piece, Chasing the Dawn, from his album, Glow, captures more of the flamenco tinged smooth jazz sound I love.

An interesting fact (at least to me) … Peter White also plays the accordion.   You can learn more about Peter White and sample more of his music on his website, here.  Have a great weekend.

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