One of Peter White’s favorite memories from the recent 2012 Smooth Jazz Cruise came backstage before the late night jam session Night Music, hosted by David Sanborn and featuring Marcus Miller and Joe Sample. One of the chosen song selections for the set was The Beatles’ “Get Back.” Sanborn had never played the tune live before and Sample was trying to show him how—but without much success until White stepped in, first trying to sing the melody and then whipping out his trademark acoustic and showing the sax legend how to do it.
Fans of White and Sanborn are going to be hearing a lot of them together this spring via the title track of the guitarist’s new album Here We Go, which features the saxman’s trademark horn vibe throughout. The two first met at the 2010 Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards. White had been a lifelong fan and was nervous about approaching the saxophonist, but Sanborn was gracious and invited the guitarist to chat in his dressing room. Before parting ways, the idea of someday working together came up and Sanborn gave White his phone number. At the time, White had no idea when and how that would happen but in the midst of writing material for his new album, the perfect song just came to him. Sanborn loved the song and, after a slight delay due to his constant touring, recorded his parts at his studio in New York and sent it back to White. White was so inspired by what the saxman had come up with that he reworked his guitar around it.
The eleven tracks of Here We Go were co-produced by White and long time collaborator DC, who has worked with George Benson, Al Jarreau, Bob James and Jeffrey Osborne; the two originally met via guitarist Paul Brown, who hired DC as an assistant engineer for his expertise in digital recording on several previous White projects. The album also features a guest spot by Kirk Whalum (on the gorgeous romantic ballad “Our Dance”). The rest of the sax duties are handled admirably by East Coast based artist Andrew Neu, who does background sax on “Here We Go” and adds subtle soprano touches to the exotic and percussive, Eastern flavored romp “If Ever…”-- which also has a cameo on violin by White’s talented 11 year old daughter Charlotte. Neu also has fun funking it up with White on the perfectly titled celebratory “Joyride” and journeys along (playing sax and flute) on the exuberant Latin jam “Costa Rica.” Another high profile guest is keyboardist Philippe Saisse, who carries the lush harmonies behind White’s lilting melody on “Time Never Sleeps” and is featured on acoustic piano on “Joyride” and “Our Dance.”
The true magic of Peter White is the way he uses his trademark acoustic touch to artfully mix high energy “joyrides” with candlelit passion. To fully appreciate Here We Go, however, the listener must go beyond the obvious radio ready hits—and discover deep cuts like “Our Lucky Day” (an instantly hummable nod to Bob Marley and reggae, with touches of accordian) and the seductive closer “Reunion,” featuring Roberto Vally’s upright bass supporting a classic White guitar melody. On a more personal note is “Requiem For A Princess,” a haunting, soundscape-enhanced ballad that he originally wrote shortly after the death of Princess Diana in 1997. Though White says it’s the “saddest song I’ve ever written,” the song has an easy rolling wistfulness that offers hope amidst the memory of grieving.
There’s so much to love on Peter White’s latest album, which is a must for fans. Ready to listen? Here we go!