November 16, 2014: Those who flocked to Peter White’s early show at the Cinnamon Club, Altrincham were rationed to only one track from his new CD ‘Smile’. However, having later purchased the album at the back of the room, they would quickly realize that here is a collection that returns the incomparable White to his roots of intense rhythm and sublime melody.
This, the latest leg of an autumnal odyssey, that would find him playing shows in Maidstone, Milton Keynes, Southend On Sea and Eastleigh (as well as multiple nights at London’s Pizza Express) was immaculately supported by White’s now regular UK backing band of Frank Felix on bass, Marc Parnell on drums, the invariably excellent Oli Silk on keys and seriously soulful sax-man Carl Stanley. Each of them played a part in aiding White’s whistle stop tour of a discography that grows more amazing with every passing release and which here was showcased not only by the tried and tested blending of ‘Bueno Funk’, the similarly smoking ‘San Diego’ and the superb ‘Bullseye’ but also by classics such as ‘Caravan Of Dreams’ and ‘Midnight In Manhattan’. ‘Costa Rica’, his seminal ‘Who’s That Lady’ and the equally beguiling ‘Walk On By’ also scored hugely with the appreciative crowd and when the tempo eased just a little ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ and ‘Perfect Moment’ proved to be right on the money.
Turning to the new recording, ‘Smile’, White selected the reflective ‘In Rainbows’ with which to regale his south Manchester fans. It is one of ten all original compositions that are variously blessed by input from the likes of Philippe Saisse, Rick Braun, percussionist Ramon Yslas, Mindi Abair, Euge Groove and Nate Phillips. Indeed the playing of Yslas is particularly effective on both the mellow yet rhythmically intense ‘Beautiful Love’ and the expansively Latin flavored ‘Don Quixote’s Final Quest’.
Elsewhere the easy grooving ‘Hold Me Close’ is characterized by a decidedly infectious hook coupled with the backing vocals of Mindi Abair and Stevo Theard while when Euge Groove steps up to apply his soprano sax magic to the tranquil ‘Coming Home’ the result is a song for which the term beauty personified would not be out of place.
Euge is also on hand for the deliciously mellow ‘Awakening (Jordan’s Song)’ and, as the pace slightly quickens, ‘Floating In Air’ turns out to be a slice of White’s hallmark melodic smooth jazz. The first single to be released to radio is the up-beat ‘Head Over Heels’ where Braun’s funky horns and nice production touches from long-time Paul Brown associate DC really get the job done. It is without doubt right up there with the best that ‘Smile’ has to offer yet, in terms of personal favorites, the wonderfully rhythmic ‘Nightfall’ is also massively hard to beat.
However, all things considered, it’s the hugely catchy title cut that grabs the honors of Smooth Jazz Therapy top track. With more great horns from Braun, and brilliant backing from Abair that simply adds to the pleasure, it is reasonable to assume that the next time Peter White is in the United Kingdom this terrific tune will be on the set-list.
In fact White will be back in the UK in the Spring of 2015 but before that he will be in The Woodlands, Houston, TX on November 26 to open his twenty city ‘A Peter White Christmas’ tour with Mindi Abair and Rick Braun that wraps up December 21 at the Red Lion Hotel in Sacramento.
For more details go to www.peterwhite.com