Smile is the latest Peter White’s album released on 7th October, 2014. Peter White is one of my greatest multi-instrumentalist, guitarist and composer who gained international reputation for being one of the most versatile and prolific acoustic guitarists in Smooth Jazz music industry. His music combines elements of jazz, pop and classical guitar with beautiful and rich sound that appeals to diverse audiences worldwide. I look forward to working with Nile Gold Jazz Safari to have Peter perform in Uganda by 2016.
Born in Luton – England, Peter began recording his own albums in 1990 although he had co-written many songs, including Al-Stewart’s 1978 top-ten hit, Time Passages. In the late 1980s, Peter accompanied Basia on a series of acclaimed albums. In 1996, Basia was featured on White’s album Caravan of Dreams, with vocals on the single ‘Just Another Day’.
On this latest Smile Album, Peter blew my mind away in soothing flavours where he featured his fellow smooth jazz artists; Mindi Abair, Rick Braun, Euge Groove and Philippe Saisse. Smile is the latest of the 14 albums I have of Peter White in my collection. The new album has TEN beatifically blended songs and two of these tracks are a dedication. The first, Beautiful Love, is Peter’s successful attempt of the legendary Barry White and Don Quixote’s Final Quest, he pays tribute to Mason Williams instrumental hit, Classical Gas.
In a recent interview that I picked from a video on Amazon, Peter had the following to say:
What can you tell me about your new album, “Smile”? It is a collection of songs that I wanted to give life to. The thing I strive for with every album is variety. I don’t want any song to sound the same or like something that I’ve already done before. Some of the songs on this album have orchestral arrangements and others have Latin percussion, but each has its own identity. When you listen to this album, you feel like you’re being taken on a journey.
Let’s discuss a few tracks from the album – Beautiful Love When I first heard Barry White on the radio, I remember this fantastic groove on the intro. I expected the vocals to just come in but instead, Barry breathed and the intro just kept going and the groove kept building. I had never heard anything like it before. It was wonderful. That feeling stayed with me so when I did Beautiful Love, I included the long, extended intro. It was me doing Barry White.
Don Quixote’s Final Quest. Classical Gas was a huge influence on me. I was about fifteen when that song came out and always thought it was great to play guitar using all of your fingers instead of just using one finger or a pick. You really have to use all of your fingers to get that distinct sound. That was when I started experimenting with finger style playing .There’s even a song on The Year of The Cat album called Flying Sorcery where I did finger-style picking – and I learned all of it from listening to Classical Gas.
Smile. What was it like working with Mind Abair? I admire Mindi’s singing just as much as I admire her saxophone playing. She’s wonderful. She actually played sax on a song called Are You Mine from my Confidential album. For this album, I wanted to feature her singing. So I invited her in as a vocalist on Smile.
What can you tell me about your upcoming Christmas tour? This year’s Christmas show will feature me, Mindi and Rick Braun along with a three-piece band. We’re going to be going out mid-November through the end of December playing as many shows as possible. We’ll be doing about 50% holiday music as well as mixing in some of our own music. The nice thing is, all three of us have brand new albums out this year.
When did you know that music was going to be your calling? I always knew that I wanted to do music. Even at the age of eighteen, the idea of continuing further education didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to play music, join a band and travel the world. I just didn’t have any idea of how to go about doing it [laughs]. So while all of my friends were going off to college, I wound up getting a job at a factory in my hometown.
How did you connect with Al Stewart? In England, there was a weekly music paper called the Melody Maker that would run ads for “Musicians Wanted” and every week, I would scour those ads looking for something that I might fit into. I started going to auditions and that’s how I met Al. I remember we got together in January of 1975 and by that summer; we were in the studio recording The Year of The Cat.
What was that experience like? It was incredible. Alan Parsons was the producer on the album and we recorded it at Abbey Road. Can you imagine? Here I was, a twenty-year old walking into the studio for the very first time – and it was at Abbey Road! The most famous recording studio in the world! I was just thrilled to be there and be a part of it.
You were hired primarily as keyboardist for Al. How did you make the transition over to guitar? Even though he hired me to play mostly keyboards, Al was the one who actually encouraged me to start playing more acoustic guitar. While we were recording The Year of The Cat, Al told me that he wanted to have a nylon guitar on a song called On the Border. When I told him that I didn’t have one, he handed me a Spanish guitar and said “Here, you can play mine.” So I gave it a go. After the album came out and we started playing that song in the show, it became the only time where I actually stepped out front. Prior to that, I was behind the keyboards on the side of the stage. The turning point though came when we went on to do the next album, Time Passages. There’s a song we did on there calledEnd of The Day and for the first two minutes of the song, it’s just me playing the melody on a nylon string guitar with the band. It was at that moment (the moment I heard the orchestra and the guitar together with the band) that I decided I wanted to do an album like that one day. Of course, it would take me fifteen years to realize that dream, but it was Al’s encouragement to play that started it all. Everything I’ve done in my career from that point on all goes back to the day when Al handed me that guitar.
What do you think makes instrumental music so special? The thing that makes instrumental music so special is the fact that it can be tailored to your liking. Because there aren’t any words, the song invites you to make up your own meaning for what the song or situation is about. When you’re able to express emotion by just using your instrument, it actually takes the place of words.