Peter White is releasing Here We Go on March 13, 2012. I was very fortunate to catch up with White during his rather hectic tour schedule and he was gracious enough to field a few questions for us...
Tell us about Here We Go! The guest list runs from David Sanborn to Kirk Whalum to your own daughter so this is obviously a very special release for you!
P.W. - "In 2006 I released Playin' Favorites which comprised all cover songs, and I wanted to make at least 3 CD's of all original material to follow that. Good Day (2009) was first, Here We Go is the second and there will be a third, which I have already started. It has long been a dream of mine to work with David Sanborn and when I met him for the first time a couple of years ago, we talked about that possibility. I wrote the title track on the new CD, specifically for him to play on, and I'm extremely happy that we finally got to record together, as I have been a fan for decades! Kirk Whalum is another special guest on the new CD - we have played shows together, most recently the Smooth Jazz Cruise and his saxophone makes the song "Our Dance" totally come alive in my humble opinion - no one is more soulful than Kirk! I thought it would also be nice for my daughter to play some violin on the album. She is eleven now, but was ten at the time and has been playing violin for a couple of years but is doing very well. She is heard playing on the song "If Ever" - I wrote a small part for her, set up a microphone in the living room at home and let her play. I'm very proud of her and hope that she continues with the violin for a long time. Maybe I will get her up to play with me at an upcoming show - it will be her choice, however. I'm not going to be a pushy stage dad!"
Care to shed some light on your own creative process and how ideas are born for you?
P.W. - " I get ideas at any time and the most important thing is to try and remember them. If I have a piece of paper I will write down a shorthand version of what is in my head that I only would ever understand, ha ha! The best thing is to be in the studio because then you can put down your ideas as fast as possible, including drumbeat, bass line or any other elements that are part of the idea. A song doesn't always start with the melody - some songs start out with a rhythm or just a bass line. I use a computer and a piano keyboard to put these ideas down, and very often the guitar is the last thing to be recorded after the groundwork has been laid. I do write some songs on the guitar, but not many - mostly the song idea enters my head and I try to sketch it on the keyboard in the studio. I have always played keyboards and have found this invaluable to my work, and would recommend to any musician who wants to be a professional that they have a good grounding in keyboard playing. A small idea can turn into a bigger idea and if it ferments in my head long enough the whole some will start to form, usually when I'm driving, or taking a walk. Sitting in the studio is not very conducive to creativity however, so sometimes I go out and take a walk to get fresh ideas!"
You have an enormous fan base as compared with some of your contemporaries. "Smooth" jazz carries a bad rap for some. What are your thoughts on the label and what do you hope the listener walks away with?
P.W. -"I'm very grateful for my fans for without them I would be still sitting in my living room playing guitar to myself! Anyone can contact me through my web site www.peterwhite.com or facebook https://www.facebook.com/peter.white.music and I'm very good at responding. It only takes a few minutes a day to do this and I enjoy keeping up with my fans around the world. A guy came up to me a few days ago at a show ( it wasn't even my show but I was just sitting in the back watching and enjoying). He said "Bittersweet" is the best thing you ever recorded and I listen to it everyday!" I was a bit surprised, not only by his statement but by the fact that he had recognized me! I thanked him of course and marveled that here was a song that I recorded 16 years ago that had never got much radio play and yet it made a significant impact on somebody. That is what keeps me going and gives me energy to keep recording music and traveling over 100,000 miles a year to play music. All music should be uplifting, even sad music, and I'm hoping that this is what people get from my music. As for the label "Smooth Jazz" - it was invented by a radio station consultant to try and describe the sound of a radio station to listeners. As a musician, I don't really take notice of labels, and generally musicians don't. To describe Bob Marley as "Reggae" doesn't in any way explain what puts him apart from other artists. What made him great was his songs and the way he put them across and no label will do that adequately. Incidentally, I was a musician for twenty years and had already released 4 solo CD's before the term "Smooth Jazz" was even coined!"