The incomparable Peter White has often been described as the hardest working performer in smooth jazz and with a recent schedule that has seen him in Africa, the Mediterranean (as part of the Dave Koz cruise), the Royal Albert Hall (with Al Stewart) and his usual crop of stopping off points in the USA, it is not difficult to understand why. His appearances in the UK have, over the years, evolved into something of a twice yearly tradition but until recently have been limited to an extended residence at London’s Pizza Express plus one or two additional dates thrown in for good measure. However, this time around, Peter took it to a whole new level with ten shows at the Pizza Express plus appearances in Maidstone, Milton Keynes, Altrincham, Southend On Sea and in Eastleigh on the south coast.
Supporting him in this ambitious endeavor were his all UK band that formed as a unit back in November 2012 and comprises Frank Felix on bass, Marc Parnell on drums, the invariably excellent Oli Silk on keys and seriously soulful sax-man Carl Stanley. Each of these fine musicians all have their own CDs on release (check out the Smooth Jazz Therapy archives for reviews of all of them) and the synergy they together enjoy was evidenced by super-tight performances throughout the tour.
Smooth Jazz Therapy was in London to catch Peter for Monday night’s Pizza Express gig and again in Altrincham where, in the intimate surroundings of the Cinnamon Club, he played two particularly engaging shows.
With a blend of old favorites and a revamped set-list, White was on tremendous form throughout. Indeed from the opening bars of the wonderfully familiar ‘Promenade’ the audience knew they were in for a special treat and as he continued with a brilliant arrangement of ‘Autumn Day’ it was clear he was very much in the mood. White turned to ‘Good Day’ for the spicy ‘Ramon’s Revenge’ that provided the chance for Marc Parnell to really shine and as he ran off the title cuts from hit albums such as ‘Caravan Of Dreams’, ‘Perfect Moment’ and ‘Glow’ the Peter White songbook seemed to know no bounds.
A brilliantly innovative version of ‘Walk On By’ afforded the opportunity for Frank Felix to contribute a groove-drenched solo on bass that went far beyond the norm and when White switched to his current release ‘Here We Go’ the reward was a zesty interpretation of the fabulous ‘Costa Rica’ plus a magical rendition of the equally good ‘Our Dance’. Other gems included a welcome outing for White’s seminal cover of ‘Who’s That Lady’ (for which the input of Mark Stanley on tenor sax was outstanding) and the completely beguiling ‘Venice Beach’ from ‘Caravan Of Dreams’.
As the band stormed toward a glorious climax, it was the tried and tested combination of ‘Bueno Funk’, the similarly smoking ‘San Diego’ and the totally terrific ‘Bullseye’ that compelled the crowd to shout for more. Peter being Peter that’s exactly what they got and has he threw out the question ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ (from his 1996 album ‘Collection’) the answer from his UK fans came back enthusiastically in the affirmative.
White will be back in the UK in the Spring of 2014 but before that (and as well as heading directly to Pennsylvania to play some shows with Al Stewart) he will be in Huntingdon Beach on November 29 to open his twenty city ‘A Peter White Christmas’ tour with Mindi Abair and Rick Braun that wraps up December 21 at the Balboa Theater in San Diego.