Peter White’s “Playin” Favorites?

Written by Michael Marsh

In the world of smooth jazz music, it is normally the case that when an artist releases a new CD, it will include one or two covers of other artist’s songs.  The cover songs will usually consist of a jazzed up version of a popular hip hop song, or some R & B classic from the past few years. 

Despite my expectation that covers will normally be done on smooth jazz projects, with the exception of Streetwize and Hidden Beach, I normally steer clear of a CD when I see that an artist is releasing a new CD that consists entirely of other artist’s songs.  When I see that, my first thought is that perhaps the artist has fallen into a creative funk in terms of being able to create his/her own material. 

Despite my usual reservations, I took a chance on Peter White’s latest release, “Playin’ Favorites”, and I’m glad I did.  With his June 27th release on the Columbia/Sony Legacy label, Peter White presents us with his interpretation of eleven classic songs, popularized by a wide range of artists over the past few decades.  I decided to get this CD because White manages to select songs which, for the most part, haven’t been covered by many other artists. 

I won’t comment on all of the songs on the CD, because I’m sure you’ll be familiar with all of them anyway and White does them all very well.  The first four tracks consist of "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)", "The Look Of Love", "Deja Vu", and "Mister Magic". 

One of my favorite cuts from the CD appears at Track 5.  On this track, Peter White presents us with a very well done version of Bill Wither’s soul classic, “Lovely Day”.  Johathon Butler adds an assist on “Lovely Day”, with his unique voice “wailing” gently in the background. 

With the sixth cut, White keeps the mellow groove churning with his version of Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love”, that was popularized a few years ago by Brian McKnight.  On this one, White adds a little reggae flavor that I swear almost makes me hear Bob Marley’s voice wailing in the background, even though there is no vocal accompaniment at all on White’s arrangement.
"Sunny" appears at Track 7, followed up by the Isley Brothers’ "For The Love Of You". 

On the ninth track, White reaches real deep into the classics bin and pulls out his version of “Hit The Road Jack”, popularized by the one and only Ray Charles back in the 60’s.  This one really took me back to my childhood days when my parents would have a group of friends over to the house and they’d be sitting around in the living room and dining room, listening to Ray Charles and other popular artists of that time, talking and laughing, drinking plenty of their favorite alcoholic beverages, filling the place with cigarette and cigar smoke, playing cards and, just having a natural ball.  Those were good times and White definitely captures that spirit of fun, even though his version is much mellower than the original. 

Jeffrey Osborne helps out White on the next cut, “You Are Everything”, adding his mellow voice to White’s mellow guitar, also joined by Richard Elliot‘s smooth sax work.  This is a nice one.  White finishes off his CD with a very nice rendition of the Hall & Oates classic, “One On One”.  I haven’t heard this song in a long time, and I am really glad that White decided to add it to his collection here.

For the most part, this is a very mellow CD and, it is definitely not a CD that you want to have playing in the car if you’re driving on the highway on a long trip, at 2:00 o’clock in the morning.  You’ll wake up and find your car in the guardrail, if you do.  However, if you’re laying back in your easy chair, sipping on your favorite beverage and just chilling, you’ll love it. 

Despite the fact that there’s nothing original on it, I give this CD four stars out of a possible five, because of the songs that White selects and the well done manner in which he presents each song.

Michael Marsh is the jazz reviewer for TNCP. To make contact, you may e-mail him at for review.