Music

Local Jazz Artist Peter Sprague CD Release Concert

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How often do you get to chat with someone who has jammed at the same parties as Herbie Hancock? Or ask questions to a person who was hand-selected to play with Chick Corea (laid tracks on some of Miles Davis’ best)? Through a mutual friend I was graced with the opportunity to interview one of the best musicians in San Diego, Peter Sprague.

The esteemed four-time winner of the San Diego Music Awards in jazz is hosting a CD release concert for his brand new album on Sunday, September 19th, 2010 at Tango del Rey in Pacific Beach. We got the chance to talk about the new album, music, and even Jack Black.

In true San Diego style, Peter was immediately one of the nicest and most mellow people I’ve ever chatted with before… especially for a person who owns their own recording studio named “Spragueland” (inspired by Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland”).

SD Entertainer: Many of the jazz projects you’ve written and contributed to are strictly instrumental, when did you decide that you wanted to have an album where all of the songs featured vocals?

Calling Me Home Album Cover

Peter: I’ve always loved working with vocalists. I started recording some tracks a couple years ago and realized that I had a collection of originals that were geared towards vocals. Then the idea hit me that I could focus an entire album on original vocal tunes, and as I started completing them the whole thing just gained momentum.

SD Entertainer: Some of the songs have folksy and pop-like melodies, and you mentioned many songwriters such as The Beatles and Bob Dylan as early influences. How did you go about keeping true to your jazz roots on these?

Peter: (Laughs) I love pop music, but I also love improvising on tunes. When it comes down to it I’m really just more of a jazz guy, so I end up sort of playing my jazz style over the pop tunes.

SD Entertainer: I’m sure this helps give people who aren’t heavy jazz listeners an easier transition into the genre.

Peter: Right. It’s jazz music underneath but there are a lot of different melodies and styles mixed in throughout the album.

SD Entertainer: There are a great variety of influences throughout the album as it touches upon its many genres. You even mention that Jack Black helped influence “The Power to Rock”!

Peter: (Laughs) That was kind of a stretch, getting the Jack Black one on the album. But there’s so much humor in it, and I’m such a fan of his stuff…

SD Entertainer: It certainly stands out being that it is a full rock anthem. But Jack Black’s wordplay “My dad is a rocket scientist and I’m a scientist of rock” and the classic rock solos in there are extremely fun to jam to.

Peter: Yes, it definitely stands out, but I feel that in its own humorous and sort of rebellious way, it makes sense. As with all of the songs on the album, I try and make the musical and lyrical qualities match so that a full story or idea can be expressed to the listener… and this one happened to be about wanting to be a misfit and rock out sometimes!

SD Entertainer: Right after “The Power to Rock” the CD ends with the title track “Calling Me Home”, which is back to a gentle, more folksy tune.

Peter: Yes, and that was the sentiment… being that it takes you back to your roots.

SD Entertainer: A perfect ending. So what’s in store for the future?

Peter: I was recently awarded the Chamber Music of America grant to compose a string consort through a national competition, and I have studio sessions and tours lined up all the way into next year, so I have my challenges cut out for me over the next months!

SD Entertainer: It definitely sounds like your plate is full.  Finally, what would be your biggest goal for the new album?

Peter: Well, first and foremost for people to enjoy it. And maybe some will enjoy it so much that they will try and interpret some of my work in their own style… maybe even Green Day could try it (Laughs)

SD Entertainer: That would most likely be epic in one way or another! Great chatting with you Peter, see you at the show!

Peter Sprague’s CD release concert will feature all five vocalists from the CD singing live together. It is an all-ages event that begins at 7:30PM. Tickets can be bought right at the venue or online. For more information visit www.petersprague.com/eye/ear.html

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