Over the years, Peter White has maintained a reputation as one of the most versatile and prolific acoustic guitarists on the contemporary jazz landscape. Armed with an unparalleled combination of lyricism and energy, he combines elements of jazz, pop and classical guitar to create a sound that is singular and at the same time accessible to a broad audience.
Born in 1954 in Luton, a small town north of London, White and his family moved to nearby Letchworth shortly after he was born. As a child, he learned to play several musical instruments, including the clarinet, trombone, violin and piano. And of course, like so many youngsters growing up during the heyday of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, he gravitated to the guitar.
He learned his first chords on an acoustic guitar, then bought his first electric guitar in his early teens and studied the recordings of the reigning guitar gods of the day – Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. But his musical aspirations ultimately veered back in an acoustic direction following an accident that doomed his beloved electric guitar. The axe was destroyed in a fire, one that White’s younger brother Danny – an aspiring pianist – accidentally started.
“The funny thing is that Danny didn’t actually admit to setting that fire for at least twenty-five years,” says White. “I had been kind of obsessed with the electric guitar at that point in my life, so that episode kind of forced me to go back to playing the acoustic. In retrospect, that’s a good thing.”
Indeed, White’s interests after the accident shifted more toward the music of acoustic artists like Crosby, Stills and Nash, James Taylor, and Joni Mitchell. Plugged or unplugged, he had decided by his late teens that music was his calling, and his first professional gig was at a holiday resort in England when he was 19 years old.
Barely a year later, he was invited to join Al Stewart’s band as a keyboardist for a tour of England, Scotland, and the U.S. in 1975. In addition to opening for artists like Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joel and Queen, White worked with Stewart in the studio in the making of Year of the Cat, which became a huge hit for Stewart in 1976. The tour and the album marked the beginning of a twenty-year association with Stewart. In that time, the two musicians co-wrote numerous songs, including Stewart’s 1978 hit, “Time Passages.”
By the beginning of the ‘80s, White and Stewart had relocated to Los Angeles, formed a band called Shot in the Dark, and established a music publishing company called Lobster Music. Around the same time, Danny White – he of the burning guitar incident several years earlier – formed a group called Matt Bianco, which included a talented Polish singer named Basia Trzetrzelewska. Danny White and Basia splintered off to launch the singer’s solo career with the 1987 debut album, Time and Tide, which featured Peter White on guitar.
After fifteen years as a backup musician and a session player, White launched his solo recording career with the 1990 release of Reveillez-Vous (French for “Wake up,” a title chosen by White in honor of his French mother). The album included several unused songs that White had written for Stewart, and it became a favorite among contemporary jazz radio stations.
He followed with three records on the Sindrome label – Excusez-Moi (1991), Promenade (1993) and Reflections (1994) – before signing with Columbia for the 1996 release of Caravan of Dreams. He maintained an ambitious release schedule through the ‘90s and beyond, but also found time to appear on recordings by many of his friends, including Dave Koz, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Jeff Golub, Lee Ritenour, Kirk Whalum, Boney James and many others.
On the road, he has participated in numerous “Guitars and Saxes” tours with the aforementioned players, and has established an annual “Peter White Christmas Tour” – the latter enterprise fueled by the success of his two highly regarded holiday albums, Songs of the Season (1997) and A Peter White Christmas (2007).
Good Day, released in 2009 on Peak Records, a division of Concord Music Group, was White’s first collection of original songs in several years. “I just started going through my backlog of material – songs that I’d never finished, some going as far back as ten or fifteen years – and I discovered that I had a lot of gems that I really wanted to show to the world,” he says. “I wanted to record them in my own time and in my own way, without any outside influence or interference.”
White released Here We Go in 2012 on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group. The 11-song set, produced by White and DC (George Benson, Larry Carlton, Bob James, Patty Austin), featured several high-profile guest musicians, including saxophonists David Sanborn and Kirk Whalum, and pianist Philippe Saisse, and included a range of original material written in the recent and distant past. “I wanted variety,” says White. “I wanted songs that moved me, in the hopes that they’ll move the listener as well. I’m on a journey, and I want to bring with me anyone who’s willing to follow.”
Smile, released on October 7, 2014, is the final CD in White’s trilogy of albums consisting entirely of his own material. Co-produced with DC, the recording features ten tracks – some were written recently, some White wrote along the way with close friends and some were from the vault. Special guests include Mindi Abair (vocals), Rick Braun (horns), Euge Groove (soprano sax) and Philippe Saisse (keyboards, piano and orchestra programming). White’s daughter, Charlotte, plays violin on one song.
In a career that spans nearly four decades, over a dozen solo recordings and countless performances, White insists that it’s the faces in the crowd and the fans that keep the experience fresh. “I’ll play a live show, and someone will come to me afterward and say, ‘Oh, I loved this CD,’ or ‘This song helped me through a bad time,’” he explains. “Or I get emails from people saying, ‘Oh, I love the way you covered one of my favorite songs on your record back in 1994.’ The idea that someone can write me an email and tell me about something I did on a record that was released fifteen years ago – you can’t buy that. That’s priceless. That’s what keeps me going – the idea that people out there really care about what I do, the idea that I’ve made a difference for someone.”
“Fear and creativity cannot live in the same room,” declares free-spirited and consummate chart-topping saxophonist, composer, producer and radio host Euge Groove. “You can’t bring fear into the creative process. It took me a while to get that.” Euge Groove’s Ying and Yang and ebb and flow approach to his artistry and life have allowed him to enjoy a career longevity that is atypical. The highly sought-after musical chameleon has been called upon for his musical prowess by everyone from Rock `N’ Roll Hall of Famer Tina Turner and balladeer Luther Vandross to UK Blues Rocker Joe Cocker, Richard Marx, Tower of Power and Huey Lewis and the News, among countless others. A road warrior, Euge Groove stays at the top of his game by maintaining a busy touring schedule. “I love live performance, which is probably pretty obvious to anyone that has seen me live,” shares the charismatic saxman. “On a sonic level, I try to capture the space of a live performance when I record. Instead of going for a really ‘dry’ soundstage, I try to envision what the sound would be if it was playing on a theater or small venue stage.” August 19, 2014 Shanachie Entertainment will release GOT 2 BE GROOVIN’, created over a six month period and the latest installment in Euge Groove’s musical evolution. “It was a blessing to take some time off from touring and really be able to focus on the creating this project,” states Euge. “I’ve built a great studio here at the ‘Groove House’ and it makes me feel good just to sit in it. I’ll light a bunch of candles, incense, warm lighting, and just open the mind to music. It’s an amazing feeling.”
In an industry where artists are consistently put in a box and categorized, Euge Groove remains an artist who chooses to continually push the boundaries and let his music go where his heart leads. “Good music is good music, no matter what.” Euge’s open heart and ears have led him to the top of the charts multiple times resulting in thirteen #1 hits.GOT 2 BE GROOVIN’ is sure to find a home at the top once again.
GOT 2 BE GROOVIN’ is an exhilarating set of nine originals and one cover that opens with Euge’s soaring soprano saxophone on the alluring “Forever And A Day,” giving a nod to Shakespeare in typical Euge tradition. The album’s title track and first single embodies all the right ingredients for a Euge Groove smash hit, as he struts his stuff and pulls out all the stops concocting a timeless organic groove of jazz, R&B, funk and soul. “This song came out one morning after I had gone to bed diggin’ on James Brown,” explains Euge. “He always had groove that turned the snare beat around and I wanted to capture that but in a modern studio kind of way.” Euge nails the track with its freight train guitar, rolling Hammond B 3 and funk horn section that would have done the ‘Godfather of Soul’ proud. In addition to paying homage to musical influences on GOT 2 BE GROOVIN’, Euge gives us insight into some of the people closest to him. A family man, many of the album tracks are inspired by his family, including the irresistibly spunky and sparkling R&B number “Miss Bane,” which highlights Euge’s ethereal soprano and was penned in honor of his wife. Euge also dedicated the album’s one cover, the Doug Edwards and David Richardson song “Wild Flower,” to his wife stating that “every lyric in the song seems like it was written just for her.” Through the years “Wild Flower” has been recorded by everyone from The O’Jays and The Neville Brothers to Johnny Mathis and Blake Shelton. Euge’s rendition features Elliot Yamin of American Idol fame who delivers a warm and moving version.
The sweet and mellifluous ditty “Hey Hey Lil’ Lilah Belle” captures the jubilant and beautiful energy of Euge’s daughter while “Homie Grown” finds him in good company collaborating with some like-minded creative spirits including guitarist Paul Brown, keyboardist and guitarist Jeff Carruthers, and bassist Roberto Vally. A special highlight onGOT 2 BE GROOVIN’ is the introspective and gorgeous gospel-inflected “Rain Down On Me,” featuring Peter White’s impressionistic guitar in a delicate dance with Euge’s robust tenor. “I associate this song with God and it is about asking for a cleansing of the soul. It is something I beg for from time to time,” confides the multi-instrumentalist.
“Groovin Up Hip Street” calls to mind magical vibes of The Blackbyrd’s with its magical groove. Euge shares, “I had an idea to write a song that if it was playing while you were swaggering with confidence on the ‘hip street’ wherever you are and it was playing behind you, this is what it would sound like. It’s four-on-the-floor kick drum is your foot-step and your finger snaps and hand claps push the groove. There is no snare drum on this cut, which is a first for me. Just snaps and claps.” Who wouldn’t want theme a like this?!
Euge Groove pays homage to his West Coast roots with “Tango in Tio.” T.O., being a nickname given to his Thousand Oaks neighborhood. GOT 2 BE GROOVIN’ closes with “In Love with You” featuring vocalist Chanel Haynes from Trin-i-Tee 5:7. Euge explains how he connected with the singer. “My wife happened to be at her sister’s house in Austin for a party and was helping to clean up when she heard someone singing in the next room. She was freaking out over her voice. It turned out to be Chanel. Her voice is ridiculous. At times it’s like listening to Toni Braxton, then she goes all Tina Turner on you!”
Born Steven Eugene Grove in Hagerstown, Maryland, Euge Groove grew up in a musical home. His mother played piano and taught the Cherub choir at Christ Lutheran Church and he began his own musical pursuits at the age of seven, beginning with the piano and adding the saxophone at nine. But for Euge it was in elementary school where he discovered that music was his calling. “In fifth grade I thought I’d be in school band the rest of my life.” He later discovered two saxophonists who had a profound effect on his approach to playing. “One was French classical player Marcel Mule, who really defined what the sax was supposed to sound like for me and the other was David Sanborn. He took that sound and brought it into the mainstream world,” reminisces the worldly saxophonist. Through the years, Euge’s love of Jazz, R&B, Gospel and Blues have all come together to inform his personalized sound. He explains, “I’ve listened to everyone from Grover (Washington Jr.) and (David) Sanborn to (Charlie) Parker and (John) Coltrane as well as (Michael) Brecker, (Stan) Getz, King Curtis, Junior Walker, Richard Elliott and Kirk Whalum. The thing is, the more mature we become the more those influences fuse into something new. I always listened to a lot of R&B growing up, fused that with Pop music, then with the Gospel music. Hopefully all of these influences come through in my music and I am able to create my own unique expression.”
A graduate of the University of Miami’s School of Music, Euge launched his professional career in Miami in the mid 80s, playing in Salsa bands, top 40 club bands and doing the occasional high profile session date like Expose’s “Seasons Change,” a #1 Billboard AC hit. Not long after he moved to L.A. in 1987, he wrote a track for Richard Elliot’s THE POWER OF SUGGESTION album, and Elliot recommended Euge to take over his spot in Tower of Power. Euge toured with TOP for four years, including a year backing Huey Lewis & The News. His resume grew from there to include recording, touring or performing stints with Joe Cocker, The Eurythmics, The Gap Band, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville and Richard Marx. Marx included Euge’s horn on “Keep Coming Back,” a #1 AC hit duet he recorded with Luther Vandross. In 1999, coming off the road after two years of touring with popular Italian singer Eros Ramazotti and Joe Cocker, the saxophonist paved the way for his eventual solo stardom by recording some tracks of his own. Without a record label to distribute the music, Euge put his songs on the now-defunct MP3.com website, dubbing himself “Euge Groove” and downloading started almost immediately and Euge was soon topping the MP3.com Jazz chart.
He signed soon thereafter with Warner Bros. “Vinyl,” his first single from his self-titled Warner Bros. debut, set a record by spending 27 weeks on the R&R charts, eventually ranking at #24 for the year. PLAY DATE kept the trend going with two more #1 radio hits, “Slam Dunk” and “Rewind.” In 2004, Euge Groove’s Narada debut, LIVIN’ LARGE, spent 68 weeks on the Billboard charts, debuted at #4 and came in at #25 overall for 2004. “Livin’ Large,” the single, was the #5 most played song for 2004 on the R&R singles chart. “XXL” spent 36 weeks on the radio chart. JUST FEELS RIGHT followed in 2005 and its first single, “Get Em Goin’,” was #1 for two months.
BORN TO GROOVE followed in 2007 and featured several chart-topping singles, including “song of the year” for Relgify. His Shanachie debut was in 2009 and included the #1 smash hit title track and the top five single “All For You.” 2011 saw the release of S7VEN LARGE whose title track scored a #1 hit. 2012 brought the release of HOUSE OF GROOVE, which spawned two #1 hits.
When Euge Groove is not in the studio or on the road he finds comfort in being with his family, cooking, swimming, running, playing with animals and gardening. The saxman who makes his home his sanctuary confides, “It is my prayer that when people hear this new music that they will listen and be relaxed through this new journey.”