Guitarist adds rock flavor to jazz concertsWritten by Katherine Timpf | | firstname.lastname@example.org
From English rock to jazz, from the United Kingdom to the United States, guitarist Peter White’s influences cross musical and international borders.
A UK native, White moved to Los Angeles 30 years ago when his band’s singer decided he wanted to become a rock star.
“I was following him to keep my job,” White said.
Gradually, White began to play his own music, and stayed in the United States because of its opportunities. He still returns to play in England.
“I go back and play in England twice a year so my mom can see me play,” White said. “It’s in a small club that only seats 116 people, the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London.”
White will perform June 14 at the “Guitars and Saxes” concert as part of Toledo’s jazz festival.
Jeff Jaffe, chairman of the 2008 Art Tatum Jazz Heritage Festival and vice president of the Toledo Jazz Society, said, “Peter is a Toledo favorite. Every show is incredibly exciting. He attracts and surrounds himself with the best musicians and never fails to get the audience on their feet.”
White said his first musical influences were English rock groups such as the Beatles and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. White said he didn’t listen to jazz at all until he was 16, and didn’t become truly impressed by it until he started listening to George Benson.
“I started listening to George Benson when he came out with his ‘Breezin’ ’ album,” White said. “That album really knocks me out, I didn’t realize a way to play guitar in front of a band without singing, effects or distortion. I was about 20.”
White said that influence came “just in time.”
“I think your influence comes when you’re younger,” he said. “I don’t think you’re really influenced so much when you’re older. By the time you’re in your early 20s, you’re about as good as you’re going to be.”
White said Benson came to see him perform three years ago in Phoenix, Ariz. White said one of Benson’s friends e-mailed him, asking if they could come to the show. White said he wasn’t sure if the man was serious until before the show, when the security gates opened to reveal Benson’s Bentley.
“I was terrified. He said he liked the show; he was very pleasant,” White said. “I’m still in shock, I can’t even describe it. I love every note [Benson] ever played.”
Despite his love for jazz music, White said his rock ‘n’ roll influences have not left him. He said he sometimes uses a “wah-wah” pedal, and at a recent show, ended a song with the famous riff from “Smoke on the Water.”
“Last night I was doing the dishes and I had the urge to put on ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ by Mötley Crüe,” White said. “I have to get my rock fix every now and then. It’s what I grew up on.”
White said he sticks to the acoustic guitar because it is how he can best “get his sound across.”
“When I play rock guitar I sound like everybody else. When I play nylon string, it’s something different, it’s unique.”
White said this uniqueness is every musician’s goal — particularly instrumentalists, who can’t use their voices to distinguish themselves, and who must find a way to sound different even while playing the same instrument as other instrumentalists.
White said he doesn’t label his style.
“You don’t have to be into jazz,” White said. “I’m a rock ‘n’ roller. I don’t consider what I do jazz, it’s just how I play the guitar.”
On the web visit www.peterwhite.com and click on links for more.