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Peter White: Groovin’ (Heads Up)

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Peter White: Groovin'
Peter White: Groovin’

After Groovin’ has retreated from its inevitable rise to the top of the smooth-jazz charts, it’s likely to enjoy a long afterlife, as bright reprises of pop hits drawn mostly from the 1960s and ’70s contribute a tuneful ambiance to retail shopping outlets everywhere. If that sounds like faint praise, it is and it isn’t.

What veteran British guitarist Peter White brings to this 10-track collection is hard to knock. His phrasing is unfailingly tuneful when a pop song demands nothing less. “I Can See Clearly Now” and, better yet, the album’s closer, “Here, There and Everywhere,” are prime examples. Mostly, White favors a sparklingly crisp tone, and yet there’s no mistaking a certain Benson-esque finesse when it comes time to dress up a soul tune with sliding double-stops and other evocative touches. As on his two previous collections of cover tunes, White also manages to embellish familiar themes with tasteful economy, clearly mindful of a tune’s inherent appeal but not constrained by it.

His performances aren’t the only reason to keep listening, either. Joining him on this session are kindre d spirits and well-known collaborators, including trumpeter Rick Braun and drummer Ricky Lawson. Of course, the real stars here are the artists and composers White has chosen to salute, Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye among them. A few smooth-jazz tropes mar the production—superfluous vocal choruses, for starters—but White’s distinctive flair for revisiting pop’s past is never in question.

Originally Published