CM – Peter, many thanks for taking the time to talk to me
today. The last time we spoke was back in September 2009 and in the
following month you were due to go and play some dates with your old buddy
Al Stewart, so I wanted to start off by asking you how that went.
PW – I did some shows with him in Steelville, Missouri. It was a
little hotel/resort kind of place and it seemed like fun, to me. It was,
actually, a lot of fun. Getting together with Al is always fun – playing
some of the old songs and playing some of the new songs. I started with
him when I was 20 years old. Played with him for almost 20 years so it’s
always fun to go back and re-live the past a little bit – it’s very
CM – Fantastic. And towards the end of 2009 you were due to do some
Christmas shows with Dave Koz again. Did that materialise?
PW – Yes it did. I did a whole tour with him. I’ve done many
Christmas tours with Dave actually. Starting in 1998, we did five
consecutive years, starting the day after Thanksgiving all the way through
to Christmas and it was always a lot of fun. I was hanging out with Dave
for a whole month out of the year. It was a constant party. Loved it.
CM – Excellent, excellent. Listening to the new CD ‘Here We Go’
Peter, lots of questions come to mind and I wondered after that brief
catch-up if we could just launch into talking about the new CD?
PW – Yes, absolutely.
CM – I don’t want to dissect it track-by-track even though that is
my usual M.O. but there were some things that really stuck out in my mind.
On the first track ‘Night after Night’, I hope you don’t mind if I read
from notes that I wrote recently: I wrote that it’s insanely catchy. Does
that seem an apt description Peter?
PW – Yes! I like that description. I write lots of songs. I get
lots of ideas. That song came to me when I was writing a whole lot – I
wasn’t on the road so much. If I continue working on a song it’s because
it is catchy to me, it has something that grabs me. The way that song
starts – it has that little keyboard melody (sings the melody) – I thought
that was really nice, that hypnotic riff that you can hang a song around.
CM – I wrote “great piano hook” because it so catchy, you can’t
stop yourself from singing it.
PW – It took me a long time to find the right sound for that riff.
And in fact my cohort D.C. came up with that.
CM – The other thing that I picked up about that song is that it’s
dedicated to your friend Jeff Golub.
PW – Well yes, Jeff has had problems with his eyesight – as you may
know. He can still see a little bit but not very much. It’s peripheral. He
can’t see you if you are right in front but he can see using peripheral
vision. He’s taken it very well and he’s out there gigging all the time.
CM – I saw how busy he was and I think that’s quite something. This
condition seemed to happen overnight in June last year if I understand…
PW – Well, he lost sight in one eye first and thought “at least I’ve
got the other eye” and then a few months later, the other eye went as
CM – Good Lord!
PW – That’s very often how it happens. He’s been doing lots of
tests and maybe one day there’ll be a way to reverse it but not right now.
I just thought it would be nice to dedicate it to him and, you know, he’s
a good friend. I’ve done hundreds of shows with him. I just wanted to give
him a bit of encouragement.
CM – One of the other things that came out of the last discussion
we had was the name of a musician that you’d always wanted to play with
and never had the opportunity. And that musician is David Sanborn, who I
am delighted to see appears on the title track!
PW – Well, I have mentioned in just about every interview I’ve done
in the last 10 years my wish to work with David Sanborn because it’s an
inevitable people question people ask. He was the only name on my list –
I’ve worked with just about everyone else I’ve ever wanted to work with.
I met him and we got to talking and he says “man, we should do something
sometime – record a song”. And I said “yeah” (starts laughing)… I think it
was he that brought it up. After all this time of me wishing for some way
to find him and convince him, he actually came up with the idea.
And I wrote this song specifically for him. With the sound of his sax in
my head, I thought it had to be kind of funky…
CM – It’s very playful isn’t it?
PW – Yes. It’s light-hearted and ‘up’ and that’s what I wanted. I was
kind of nervous about playing it to him, as you are (laughs).
CM – I can picture the scene…
PW – I think the last time I was that nervous about playing someone
a song was when I had Basia listen to the song ‘Just Another Day’ that she
recorded with me in 1996. I thought “I hope she likes it” because I kind
of wrote it for her.
CM – It’s a much more personal thing.
PW – So, yes, he liked it and he did it and it all worked out and
one day we’ll play together live – but my dream has been fulfilled. I
recorded a song with David. I’ve jammed with him on stage a couple of
times since then, most notably on the Smooth Jazz Cruise. That was in
January this year. We jammed together, as did many people, because the
cruise is a great equaliser Chris. Everybody jams with everybody and
nobody’s too big to play with anyone else. Everybody’s together. We’re all
in it together and it’s just a lot of fun.
CM – It seemed to me from conversations I’ve had with other artists
that the ego just gets checked at the door and it’s really just about the
music and the moment.
PW – Absolutely. There I am on stage and Joe Sample beckons me and
says “hey, come and play on this song” and that’s literally how it
CM – Another hero of mine.
PW – Yes, and mine too. I never thought that would ever happen but
this is my life Chris. Things happen – it’s just quite amazing.
CM – I can think of worse ways of spending your time – that’s for
PW – Well, people ask me if I get tired of the cruises and I say
“what – are you crazy??” You spend a week in your own cabin, sailing the
high seas. You’re pretty much cut off from the mainland - you’ve very
little idea what’s going on there. And you’re with all these people who
love music and you hang out with the greatest musicians in the world. We
had Kirk Whalum, Gerald Albright, David Sanborn, Boney James, Candy Dulfer,
Joe Sample – it was endless.
All these amazing, legendary musicians and everyone’s playing with
everyone. Boney James came up to me and said “you want me to play on your
show?” and I said “yes” because there were two songs on my show on the
cruise that I’d recorded with him back in the 90’s. There was ‘Walk on By’
and ‘Caravan of Dreams’. I don’t know if I’ve ever played those songs with
him live – maybe once - but for him to say that he wanted to come up and
To do this in the context of a show on the mainland would not be so easy,
but because it was the cruise, everything was up for grabs. He came up and
played with me and it was like no time had passed since we recorded those
songs. It was just like yesterday. It was amazing. I loved it!
CM – Can I talk about one of the more surprising musicians who
appeared on another of the songs from your album Peter?
PW – Yes, please.
CM – And that’s a 10-year old lady called Charlotte…
PW – (starts laughing)
CM - … on ‘If Ever’ which I adore because it has a lovely romantic
feel and that exotic sitar sound. And then you have your daughter playing.
PW – She’s doing very well on the violin. I love to hear her play and
I thought maybe there was a place for her on my album, just a little
background part. So that she could feel like part of it and it would be
something different for her – something she could be proud of in years to
come. And so I just had her play along with the melody and I recorded it
at home. I just set up a microphone and plugged it into my computer and we
did it right there.
CM – Fantastic – just captured the moment.
PW – She kept saying to me “Daddy am I really on your CD?” And I
said “yes you are”.
CM – It’s hard to know who got the bigger buzz really: you or your
PW – I think we both did. She’s progressing by leaps and bounds on
the violin so who knows, she may be with me on stage one day. You never
CM – Well, that was the next question…
PW – If that’s what she wants. We’ve made it very clear to her that
it has to be her decision, whatever she wants to do. I’m quite sure that
when I was 10 years old I was never given any of these decisions or any of
these options. I think it’s good for her to have these decisions to make.
So if she wants to come up and play with me, she’s quite welcome. She’s
still only 11 right now – there’s plenty of time.
CM – I wrote, when I was listening to the song ‘Our Dance’, that it
not only follows on from ‘If Ever’ very seamlessly but it has an
old-school soulful feel. So much so, that I’m expecting a vocal to come in
but there isn’t a vocal. It still sounds like a soul record to me.
PW – Yeah, there was something a little different. It was gospel-y,
which is why I had Kirk Whalum play on it because who’s more soulful than
CM – Yeah, his solo’s short but very sweet isn’t it?
PW – Yes, I was trying to wait for the perfect moment for him to
come in and I wanted to save it. Although when we’ve done it live we cut
the song down a little bit because I don’t want him waiting there
(laughs). When we play it live, I play the first verse like I do on the
album and then he comes in on the second verse. And we miss all that
middle bit out and we get to the Kirk solo and we just vamp out and trade
licks, as we say.
It’s very old-school and it’s interesting – I never even thought about how
those two songs run together. It never struck me. There are two other
songs on the album which I designed to run one into the other, but not
those two. You’ve probably guessed already what they are…
CM – Well, using software that removes gaps between the tracks I
listened to ‘Desert Nights’ and then I listened to ‘Joyride’ and you would
almost think they were two parts of the same song.
PW – Well, they actually are (laughs).
CM – I love them both actually – I really love them both. And the
question that came into my mind on ‘Desert Nights’ was whether you have
ever written film music…
PW – It would lend itself I think. I haven’t written film music – I
would like to. One day someone will ask me I hope (laughs).
CM – Well I hope so because your closing song ‘Reunion’ to me has a
very cinematic feel about it too.
PW – Well I’m glad. It’s music without words and I’m glad it evokes
something in you because that’s what I hope. It evokes something in me –
it evokes feelings in me. I’m not just going through the motions and
playing something funky and having fun. The music is a little deeper and
‘Reunion’ is about two old friends getting together. One has a low voice
and one has a high voice.
If you listen to it with that in mind, you’ll get it I think.
CM – Yeah, and to use the old friend analogy, you and Philippe Saisse have
some of the best guitar and piano interplay here that I think I’ve ever
PW – Yes, I love Philippe and I think he’s a genius. I think
everybody knows he’s a genius. I never have to give him any instruction –
that’s the greatest thing. I play him the bare bones of the song. I don’t
even have to give him a chord chart or music or anything. He’ll just go
and play the right thing and it’ll have character and it’ll have emotion –
and it’s very easy for me to play over it or in-between. I always love
collaborating with Philippe.
CM – Another one of your long-time collaborators whose work I very
much appreciate on this album is Ramón Yslas.
PW – Yes well, where did I meet Ramón? I think I met him on a gig –
this is where I meet everyone – and he was playing either with Craig
Chaquiço or the Rippingtons. I got to know him and I love playing with
percussion. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does I call Ramón.
I let him have fun – I gave him a few tracks and said “just add what you
want – just go crazy. If you overplay, I can always edit it down”. He had
so much fun with the song ‘Costa Rica’ that I gave him a whole ending.
It’s an add-on – I’ve done this live with him. Not that particular song
but I’ll end a show and because I want to keep it going and hear Ramón
play, I just start the rhythm again. And from that moment on it’s just
percussion, timbales and everybody’s up and dancing so I just wanted to
re-create that on this CD with the false ending on the end of ‘Costa
Rica’. And then Ramón starts up again (laughs).
CM – For my money, that breakdown works brilliantly. I didn’t see
PW – Good, because it’s a real ending (sings the ending and the
start of the percussion break). I want to keep it going – it’s so much
fun. Let’s keep this rhythm going…
CM – Have you had the chance to play some of these songs on live
dates yet Peter?
PW – Well I have, and what songs do you think I’ve chosen to play?
CM – ‘Costa Rica’ you would always want to play.
PW – I have played that yes.
CM - ‘Night after Night’ I guess you would and I’m guessing if you
play ‘My Lucky Day’ that would get smiles all round.
PW – That’s a good guess but I haven’t played ‘My Lucky Day’ and I
may not, ever, unless a whole lot of people start telling me they want to
hear it. ‘Night after Night’ I think is great as an album track. It’s very
atmospheric and hypnotic but when I choose a song to play live, it has to
There has to be an “ooh” moment, a high point, a big climax, a crescendo
and ‘Night After Night’ I think doesn’t really have that. It’s really nice
and it keeps going and it sort of hypnotises you – but ‘Costa Rica’ has
big moments. And ‘Here We Go’ I’ve been playing because it’s been the
single over here in the States, even though I don’t have David Sanborn.
I’ve had Euge Groove play a couple of times and it sounds really good.
CM – I had a look on your website earlier today and it looks like
you and Euge Groove are going to be doing quite a lot of dates through
PW – Yes, we are and he’s even promised to pick up his flute to
play ‘Costa Rica’. Who’s ever seen Euge Groove play the flute? Well, this
is gonna happen! I’ve never seen it but he claims he can play the flute
and he just needs a bit of encouragement to practise. And I’ve given him
the encouragement by giving him this song, which features the flute of
CM – Which is some superb playing…
PW – As you say, that’s some fantastic playing and only because
Andre came to my studio and I said “play some saxophone”. He played some
background saxophone parts on ‘Here we Go’ and then he said “I’ve also
brought my flute. Do you want to hear flute on anything?” I hadn’t really
thought about it but I asked him to try it out on ‘Costa Rica’ and it
worked out great. And only because he happened to be there at the time –
it wasn’t a great vision that I had.
And honestly Chris, some of my best ideas are not my ideas – they just
happen. I’m in the right place at the right time and the right person
arrived and made a suggestion. You know, you just run with it. So thank
you to Andrew for that standout flute on that song!
CM – The last collaborator on this record that I just wanted to
mention was Gabriel the Gun… That’s very a very intriguing, sort of,
pseudonym if I can put it that way.
PW – Well everybody asks about Gabriel and, once again, he just
happened to stop by the studio (laughing). He was actually there with a
friend of mine, Mel Scott, who has a studio next door and he came in to
say hi. Gabriel is actually a founder member of No Doubt, back in the
90’s. He’s not with them any more. They were a real ska band when they
CM – This is No Doubt as in Gwen Stefani?
PW – Yes. He left the band but he still continues to play. I just had
him play some background parts on the album – he’s on ‘Costa Rica’ as well
– and I asked him how he wanted to be credited and he said ‘Gabriel the
CM – Why not, why not?
PW – And that’s his Facebook page.
CM – I’ll definitely check that out.
PW – Everybody asks about him (laughs).
CM – Looking through your touring schedule for this year, it
includes dates in Japan…
PW – Yes, this just came up a couple of weeks ago. I’ll tell you
something interesting. I was looking at the month of June in my calendar
and I really had nothing going on in June. I know I have the Capital Jazz
Festival on June 2nd and that’s in Washington DC. That’s with Euge Groove.
I had nothing else going on so I thought I could use that as a stepping
off point to go to England and visit my Mum. So I booked a ticket and then
I was talking to Steve Quirk and Steve says “you’re going to be in England
the same time as Dave Koz. You should come and play some shows with him –
jump up on stage and surprise him!” And I said “OK, I’ve done it before”
CM – Excellent.
PW – So I called Dave and he said “let’s do a show together – let’s
do a special show”. He was thinking about a lunchtime show on Sunday. He
knew I’d played lunchtime jazz shows at the Pizza Express on Sunday. But
as it turned out I wouldn’t be able to make it on the Sunday because I’d
be flying over after the Capital Jazz Festival.
So he suggested we make it Monday, which is a bank holiday, June 4th. So
we’re going an afternoon lunch/brunch show – just the two us with no band.
We’re just going to play acoustic. And we’ll see what happens and I think
the show’s near sold out already. We may be adding a show the following
day because that’s also a bank holiday…
CM - Excellent
PW - … I’m not absolutely sure about that. I just went on a visit
to see my Mum and I got a gig, and possibly two. And then I got the call
to go to Japan. As I was going to be in England, I had to re-route my
ticket to go from England straight to Japan. And after 4 nights in Japan,
I’m going to be back in California so that’s really round the world. I
think it’s the first time I’ve ever done round the world like this.
CM – So what you just described about the kind of session you and
Dave are planning to play kind of answers a question I had about a date in
October where I see ‘Peter White Unplugged’ on your website.
PW – That’s in California and it’s part of the Catalina Island
JazzTrax festival, which has been going on for years over consecutive
weekends – this year it’s over three weekends. It’s been going for 20
years, more than 20 years.
CM – Was this the brainchild of Art Good?
PW – Yes. And he’s had that going since, I think, 1988. Every year,
he’s been holding the festival – one of the longest-running festivals, in
smooth jazz anyway. I’ve played it many, many times.
I’m playing on the main stage on October 20th but he also has this
Thursday night series. To get people to the island early he puts on a
smaller show, and this one is on a beach (laughs).
CM – How lovely.
PW – It’s a place called Descanso Beach, right next to the main
ballroom where we’re playing. And I’ll play with a cut-down band and with
no electronics – just microphones. It’s sort of like MTV Unplugged, kind
CM – The name of the beach is very appropriate.
PW – Descanso, what does it mean?
CM – It’s a Spanish word that you could translate either as ‘rest’
or ‘relaxation’. So, like Chillout Beach, if you like.
PW – Yes. I’ve done it before but he did it at a place called…
Rancho Escondido. I can’t remember. It was way up in the mountains on
Catalina Island. That was really great fun but it was very difficult to
get there. It took 45 minutes up a dirt road, being ferried by buses, to
get there. So eventually Art found a much easier place to get to.
CM – From a logistical standpoint, it sounds like Descanso Beach
might be easier.
PW – Yes.
CM – Peter, I’ve heard about a date that doesn’t appear on your
website yet but it’s been pencilled in at the Cinnamon Club, very close to
where I live.
PW – Yes.
CM – November if I’m not mistaken.
PW – Yes. I have a week at the Pizza Express as well, starting
November 1st I think. Thanks for reminding me – I have to put those dates
up on the site.
CM – Neil from the Cinnamon Club, when he knew I would be talking
to you today, asked me to send his regards and say hi.
PW – I look forward to being there. It’s November 11th we’re going
to be at the Cinnamon Club.
CM – Obviously I’ve been looking at your calendar quite a lot and
we’ve been filling in some gaps now Peter. Is there anything that you want
your fans to be aware of that possibly we’ve not covered about your plans
for the end of this year or maybe the start of next year?
PW – Well right after my English run, which will include The
Stables outside Milton Keynes, as well as Club One in Ascot and a week at
the Pizza Express – and a couple of days in Maidstone – I’m doing another
US Christmas tour, starting the end of November. With Mindi Abair and Rick
CM – Both people who appeared on the last Christmas CD that you
PW – Yes. That’s right. And, going into next year, I’m doing the
Dave Koz Mediterranean Cruise. Not the one this year – that’s sold out
already – but September 2013, with Dave Koz, leaving from Rome. A
week-long cruise there.
CM – It’s going to go to Sicily and some really interesting places
PW – Yes, and Greece mostly. Greece and Sicily.
CM – Fantastic! How wonderful!
PW – And, you know, just let everyone know about my website. That
has a link to my Facebook page, where I post pictures and funny stories –
things like that. Anyone can write to me too. I get letters and emails and
messages from people all over the world and I’m pretty good at responding.
CM – I definitely would like to ‘weave everything together’ if
that’s the best way to say it. On my own internet radio station I’m
playing tracks from the new CD at the moment. And obviously I put stuff up
on Twitter and Facebook as I feature it so I’ll be looking to do more of
that – especially when the transcript of this interview is available.
PW – OK, great!
CM – Meantime, Peter thanks again for giving me a big chunk of your
morning, talking about your record and your plans. I know that the record
is doing very well in the US at the moment – congratulations for that. We
your fans in the UK are looking forward to seeing you at the earliest
opportunity, which is just a few weeks away.
PW – Yes, in just four weeks I’ll be there with Dave Koz.
CM – Wow – it’s May already. I can’t believe it’s May!
PW – Yes, in fact it’s less than four weeks that I will be appearing
at the Pizza Express on Dean Street with Dave. I look forward to that –
and then I’m back in November for a much longer tour.
CM - I and your other fans will be looking forward to that but in
the meantime thank you Peter very much for taking so openly and
enthusiastically again about your music. It’s an absolute pleasure to talk
to you – as it is to listen to this fabulous new record.
PW – Thank you very much Chris. I appreciate it and I look forward to
seeing you soon up in Manchester in November and talking to you again.
CM – Best of luck with everything you do between now and the next
time I speak to you. Thanks again for your time.
PW – You’re welcome. Bye bye.