I’m of the mind that anyone who creates something for public consumption is subject to have whatever that something is critiqued. Not every artist agrees with the assessment, but most don’t take the compliments or the criticism to heart.
Most, but not all as my recent review of the new Peter White album seems to demonstrate:
Make no mistake about it: Peter White is a technically proficient guitarist who blends impeccable taste and admirable fluidity in his playing. He is standing on the top of the smooth jazz food chain and Here We Go will do nothing to lessen his dominance as one of the most popular artists working today. White is a pro’s pro who knows what he can do and he does it quite successfully.
But there’s a tad too much polish and far too much restraint to make any lasting impression At its heart, Here We Go feels like just another in a series of pleasant-sounding Peter White recording that breaks no new ground, places no demands and commands little (if any) attention.
This isn’t a bad album so much as it isn’t a compelling one. The saxophones solos by David Sanborn on the horn-heavy title track and Kirk Whalum on “Our Dance” are as effective as they are routine. Sanborn and Whalum can play this kind of stuff in their sleep. Philippe Saisse‘s piano is a standout, and Ramon Yslas’ Latin percussion livens up the three tracks he appears on, but he isn’t enough to lift the album up from the humdrum and ho-hum.
White can’t be faulted for being a bad musician because he clearly is not. He excels at what he does, but what he does is play exactly the right amount of notes in exactly the correct sequence to make precisely the kind of pretty sounding music that doesn’t stray from his formula. Some artists swim against the tide; others prefer to float along with it. White excels at the latter.
There’s nothing wrong with courting commercial success, and who can blame White for staying in his lane and making what is essentially nice-sounding, but never compelling music. This album was never meant to appeal to jazzheads wanting their guitarists to have a harder edge, get a little nasty and put some blood, sweat and tears into their playing.
That is not Peter White’s style, it never will be, and he’s probably okay with that. Everybody else will learn to be too.
Track Listing: Night After Night, Time Never Sleeps, Here We Go, If Ever, Our Dance, Desert Night, Joyride, Costa Rica, My Lucky Day, Requiem For A Princess, Reunion
Personnel: Peter White: guitars, accordion, unspecified instruments; D.C.: unspecified instruments; Nate Phillips: bass (1, 2,); Phillipe Saisse: piano, keyboards, drum programming, orchestration (1-5, 7, 10); David Sanborn: saxophone solo (3); Andrew Neu: background sax, soprano sax, saxophones, flute (3, 4, 7, 8); Gabriel the Gun: flugelhorn, trumpet (3, 7, 8); Mel Scott: baritone sax (3); Kiki Ebsen: vocals (4); Charlotte White: violin (4); Ramon Yslas: congas, timbales, percussion (4, 7, 8); Roberto Vally: upright bass (5, 11).
The review received a comment. Apparently, from Mr. White himself. He wasn’t happy either.
Thanks for the comments, Jeff.
I was amused by your line- “This album was never meant to appeal to jazzheads wanting their guitarists to have a harder edge, get a little nasty and put some blood, sweat and tears into their playing”.
I am not a jazz player, I have never tried to appeal to jazz heads, never tried to break new ground or place any demands as you say and most of all, never tried to court commercial success as you imply. I welcome criticism of my music but draw the line when writers such as yourself start questioning my motives. You do not know me and have not a clue as to what my motives are for making music. Let me help you-
I play and record music that I like and turns me on. I hope other people will like it but that is not what drives me. Please reserve your criticism for what I do, not for what you thought I should have done. You may become a better writer in the process.
All my best…..Peter White
P.S. As to your snide comment that my music “commands little (if any) attention”, my current single and the title track “Here We Go” currently stands at number 1 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz chart. Maybe more research is needed here, Jeff.
(I seriously doubt Peter White trolls the Internet looking for middling-to-negative reviews of his albums so he can take the writer to task. I would think he has better things to do. But a Peter White fan? THEY might take exception to such a review and so much so they would respond to it by claiming they are Peter White, Which is kind of ballsy-as well as stupid, but I replied to “Peter”).
I’m probably feeding a troll here, but I got a few minutes to kill, so I’ll play along.
If this really is from Peter White, the guy who says he never tried to court commercial success (but boasts his album is Number One on Billboard’s Jazz Chart), I’d say if you welcome criticism of your music, aren’t you too busy enjoying that commercial success you say don’t care about?
It’s great your album is doing so well, “Peter,” but I don’t write my reviews based upon whether you’ve sold 500,000 copies or five. Nobody on AAJ does.
You are right “Peter” that I don’t know or your motives, but I do own enough of your music and that qualifies me to express an opinion. My opinion is I don’t care for Here We Go. It’s safe. It has no edge. It breaks no new ground.
I listen to and review music that artists make and when I do, I’m going to write reviews that honestly reflect my assessment of the music. If you feel I’ve attacked you personally and in an unprofessional manner, I’d urge you to bring it to the attention of this fine website’s editor and publisher.
Otherwise, what I can promise you when you make an album I like, I’ll say I’ll like it and when you make an album I dislike, I’ll say that I dislike it.
I will also promise I won’t tell you how to become a better musician if you don’t tell me how to become a better writer.
Fish, chips and sweat,