Peter White The Stables, Wavendon.
4 November 2004.

Peter White is, for me, one of the world’s leading ‘smooth jazz’ guitar exponents. When it comes shifting CDs, this English gentleman has been one of our most successful ‘exports’.

Sadly, like so many of his fellow countrymen, he fled these shores some years ago to seek fame and fortune in the USA. Tonight, though, is something of a triumphant homecoming for the lad from Luton.

The set draws heavily on the band’s 1998 ‘Perfect Moment’ CD, a beautifully crafted work. Tonight’s live versions of these classic tunes sound even better.

Indeed, they are quite breathtaking. From the calm and tranquillity of the title track to the sassy funk of ‘Midnight in Manhattan’, which Peter dedicates to the legendary sax player featured on the original recording, the great late Grover Washington Jnr.

As the evening unfolds, Peter cannot contain his delight at finally being able to come and play at The Stables, something he has always wanted to do. He explains that he spent many of his formative years living in a small place down the road called Letchworth Garden City.

Indeed, many of his close family and friends are in the audience tonight including former school chums from his old school in Hitchin.

Peter introduces ‘My Prayer’ also from the ‘Perfect’ CD as his Mother’s favourite tune. She is in the audience tonight. He recalls family holidays spent on the Norfolk coast, paddling in the sea and the English weather’s tendency to be somewhat inclement. Following on from this, tonight’s rendition of ‘San Diego’ is bright, breezy and crammed full of sunshine. Yes, it’s another heart-lifter from the ‘Perfect’ CD.

Peter is backed by a superb band of musicians featuring Jaared Arosemena on saxophone. On several occasions, Peter and Jaared leave the confines of the stage to wassail up and down the aisle to serenade the adoring fans.

As these two superb instrumentalists exchange fire there are some fabulous cross-references and quotations from standards within the genre including the Average White Band’s ‘Pick up the pieces’, Chuck Mangione’s ‘Feels so good’ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Goin’ On’. The band also turn in a brilliant cover of Robbie Nevil’s 1986 Christmas hit ‘C’est la vie’.

Peter’s CD ‘Glow’ from 2000 is probably the one fans in the UK will most likely have heard on the radio, certainly Jazz FM listeners, that is. Our hero touches on the demise of that once treasured radio station. Sadly, these days the last thing Jazz FM plays is jazz. Peter and Jaared venture out into the audience for one of the CD’s highlights ‘Bueno Funk’ which Peter introduces as ‘Clapton meets Zeppellin’.

He reminisces about the nights spent listening to the radio at low volume, under the covers of his bed after ‘lights out’ at home in Letchworth. One of the bands he idolised in those days was The Isley Brothers promising himself he would, one day, cover one of their tunes, if he made it as a musician.

The excellent version of ‘That Lady’ from ‘Glow’ is testament to that ambition and his incredible talent. The set also incorporates a great version of the track ‘Bullseye’ also from ‘Glow’.

Peter White’s latest CD release is ‘Confidential’. Released earlier in 2004, it includes ‘She’s in love’ co-written by Peter’s friend, the songstress Brenda Russell, Mark Portmann and Jay Gaydon.

It is beautifully sung on the CD by none other than Mr Christopher Cross, he of ‘Ride like the wind’, ‘Sailing’ and ‘The best that you can do’ (Arthur’s Theme) fame. Sadly, the great man is not present tonight. Instead sax player Jaared steps up to the mike and gives up a magnificent vocal performance of the song.

It’s a thoroughly entertaining show crammed full of great tunes played by Peter and his highly talented band of musicians. And so the show comes to an end.

After all this time, having finally made it to The Stables, I very much hope Peter will return in 2005 for more of the same. Not to, would be a great shame!

Reviewed by Alan Howard, November 2004.
 

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