Jazz Monthly: All right, it is my wonderful pleasure to welcome to JazzMonthly.com for the very first time an incredible singer, songwriter, guitarist, keyboard player, a lover of music, and he’s feeling his life force today. He has a great new record. It is called Lifeforce, to be released very soon. You have got to check this cat out. You know him from some fantastic music of the past. He’s a Grammy Award winning artist and let me tell ya, he feels it every time out and he knows how to bend the strings. Please welcome the incredible and amazing Mr. Jim Peterik. Jim, how you doing, my friend?
Jim Peterik (JP): Smitty, I have never gotten an intro quite that good.
Jazz Monthly: (Laughs.) Come on, man!
JP: Now really I wanna hear me. Man, I wanna hear that guy. Shoot!
Jazz Monthly: Oh yeah, man.
JP: No, no, no, that’s very kind, man, but you’re right. I mean, I’m passionate about what I do. I’m a lifer with music. That’s all I know how to do. Might as well do it, right?
Jazz Monthly: Absolutely, and when we find what we love, run with it, baby.
JP: It’s an old adage. If you find out what you love to do, you don’t have to work a day in your life.
Jazz Monthly: A very good old adage.
JP: And that’s what happens. This Lifeforce record, after it was all finished, I’m listening to it in the car with my wife and I’m going “How did I do that?” It seemed effortless while I was doing it and yet it was so much work. It didn’t seem like work, though. Yeah, you know what I’m saying.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, that the effort was there but yet when you listen to it, there’s the old adage of time flies when you’re having fun. So even though you put a lot of effort in it, you were having fun and when you’re having fun, some of those things go by so quickly that when you can listen back to it, it’s like “Wow, I did that.”
JP: Yeah, you’re in the moment and that’s where it needs to be and for me, smooth jazz or whatever categories—I’m not into that—but smoother music, which is what I’m making as opposed to rock music, which was my stock in trade, and I still like rock, but the smooth jazz genre is like flexing a different muscle. I mean, this music—Karen and I have been married for 36 years.
Jazz Monthly: Congratulations.
JP: When we relax at the end of the day, I mean, ever since we were married, and pour ourselves a little chardonnay or whatever it is, we’re listening to smooth jazz. We’re not listening to Aerosmith, you know? Or no offense to REO Speedwagon, but we’re not listening to that. We’re listening to Acoustic Alchemy, Keiko Matsui, SFX, Dave Grusin, Burt Bacharach, David Benoit, on and on. I mean, that’s it. And finally Karen said “You know, this is what we love. When you’re fiddling around on the piano, you’re playing that kind of music. Why don’t you do that genre?” I’m sitting there, you know, “Nobody will accept me, man. Everyone thinks ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ man, rock guy,” and she said “Come on.” I said “Well, what the heck” and started this project timidly and actually the first thing I recorded was a thing called “Secret Of The Away,” which is No. 8 on this record. Karen has a weakness with it so she put it on her Web site like music to surf her Website on, you know?
Jazz Monthly: Nice.
JP: And people are freaking out. “Man, where can I get this?” So a little bit of confidence under my belt. “Okay, maybe I can do this.” And I cut another one and another one, and then I said “Well, I’m gonna remake a couple of my hits. Maybe it’s a sell-out, maybe it’s not. I’m gonna reinvent ‘Eye of the Tiger.’ Is that too crazy?” She goes “No.” I want to reinvent “Vehicle,” I want to try a new take on “The Search is Over” and I did it, man, and I go “This is kinda cool.” So flash forward and I’ve been going to these jazz fests, which to me was more fun. I mean, it’s like Disneyland for adults. You know about those.
You go there, you’ve got every kind of wine in the world, you’ve got duck sandwiches and all this chi-chi food and you just stand there or sit there all afternoon and hear one great act after another, and I’m talking about like Jazz on the Vine, talking about like Kettle Moraine, stuff like that, and you have these autograph tables, right? Well, I usually don’t go to autograph tables when I’m a member of the audience because usually I’m on the other side of an autograph table. So, my friend said “Go ahead. Go to the autograph table and meet Nick Colionne,” so I did that and he couldn’t have been nicer, and suddenly I’m writing with Nick, suddenly he’s guesting on this record, and now the next event, Smitty, is Nick’s jazz cruise and I’m gonna be on board. I think you are too.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, I’ll be there, man. The Smooth Music Cruise Jan 31st –Feb 5th 2009. We’re gonna have a funky good time.
JP: Yeah, we’re gonna maybe have such a good time we won’t even remember it.
Jazz Monthly: Those are the best times.
JP: Those are, yeah. If you remember the day after the cruise, you weren’t there, right? But anyway, I’m gonna be on the jazz cruise and I’m just gonna try to jam with him on those jam nights and we’re gonna have a great time. But anyway, this album comes out February 3rd. I’m really excited about it.
Jazz Monthly: Yeah, you should be because there are some great tracks on here, man. This is a fantastic album. When I listen to the album, I say to myself “I have a connection with this cat because he was a rocker” and growing up I was a rocker in the ghetto and people didn’t quite understand that. Growing up, I did listen to R&B. I come from a family of 10 children so everybody had their own taste in music.
Jazz Monthly: So when I grew up, I listened to Nectar and Yes and Chi Coultrane, Rare Earth and all those great bands, The Doors, Ozark Moutain Daredevils, Ray Manzarek. I mean, how can you miss that guy, you know?
Jazz Monthly: And Santana, but then at the same time, I was listening to R&B because some of my brothers and sisters loved that, so I was listening to whatever they had so I just sort of morphed into some other tastes of music and here we are, but when I listen to you, I’m saying to myself “I can feel the rock and roll vibe but this cat has really found his spot, his pocket, with smooth jazz” because, man, it’s like you’ve always been doing this with this record.
JP: Well, that is such a huge compliment. You know, Smitty, I’ve always been a theorizing person. Songs are king, man. I don’t care what genre it is, you gotta have a strong melody and you gotta have a great rhythm.