Playing It As Beautifully As You Can!

Greetings Good People, I’m writing from the spacious office quarters here at SpragueLand and Eric Dolphy is going wild on the speakers, setting the sonic atmosphere and tone for the day. It’s Freddie Hubbard’s “Clarence’s Place” and it’s a classic track from his The Body & The Soul Impulse recording. Freddie’s rippin’ it up and it’s a nice way to start things off.

Sad news arrived this week with the passing of jazz guitar great Jim Hall. I loved his music and he’s been a major source of inspiration to me in playing jazz and in playing the guitar too. I first heard him on records with Sonny Rollins and what hit me was his mature sense of restraint, of leaving space, his swing factor was infectious, and he had a wonderful sense of time. When he was comping behind Sonny’s solos his choice of chords, octaves and rhythms were so unique they too became like solos that I could sing along with. Ultra memorable and compositionally brilliant—songs unto themselves.I got to hear Jim live a couple of times and those were special evenings. I loved his connection with the audience too — funny and humble, down to earth, a really solid citizen.

The great Larry Goldings, who I think played on and off with Jim, shared these beautiful thoughts with the world upon hearing of Jim’s passing. I’m moved by these ideas and to me they really capture what was so unique about Jim’s contribution to music.

Jim Hall: humility, patience, beauty, silence, sound, wisdom, commitment, kindness, humor, courage, respect, friendship, inspiration.
Thank you, Jim Hall.
And for those of us performing tonight, including myself…let’s play fewer notes. Let’s play something meaningful, not something stale and preconceived. Let’s take chances. Let’s be willing to fail. Let’s listen to our bandmates, give them space. When we play a melody, let’s play it as beautifully as we can. Let’s play softer, and think about our sound. Let’s leave space. Let’s be creative. Let’s think about giving, not taking. Let’s make music.
Let’s be more like Jim Hall.
Larry Goldings, 2013
Jim came and played the Neuroscience Athenaeum series and I got to talk with him a little. That's Jim in the middle and Joey Carano is on the right. photo by Mark Keller

Jim came and played the Neuroscience Athenaeum series and I got to talk with him a little. That’s Jim in the middle and Joey Carano is on the right.
photo by Mark Keller

The big YouTube news this week is the release of young Kate Sprague’s new song “Carry On”. My brother Tripp helped with the production and the sound is great along with the cool black and white video images. Bravisimo!

Check it out here:


The surf has been fantastic and the sunsets have been off the Richter! Here’s a left that I slid down on Monday afternoon that the surf cam on the cliff captured. Click it to see it come alive!

PSBeacons3and here is a recent sunset:

Cali magic! photo by Paul Gallegos

Cali magic!
photo by Paul Gallegos

Tomorrow night, Thursday, I’m making my solo guitar return to the Roxy Restaurant in Encinitas. It’s been a month at least since I’ve been there and I’m thrilled to make a scoot through some solo material. Hope to see you there!


And coming up on Christmas Eve during the day is our annual free concert at the amphitheater in front of the L`Auberge Del Mar. It’s a long lasting tradition of ours to present this show which is a mix of great music, super cool friends, family, and new acquaintances. Together we rally the lofty life of California Christmas with the temp barreling down to an edgy 72 degrees in the shade. I’m hoping that’s what’ll be!

Here’s the band lineup for the concert:

Leonard Patton, Kevyn Lettau, Coral MacFarland Thuet, Tripp Sprague, Gunnar Biggs, Fred Benedetti, Duncan Moore, Riley Fleck, John Leftwich, Kate Sprague, Julia and Regina Benedetti, Kekoa Trent, Eliza Kiy, James Romeo, and me. Others too I’m hoping!

For some history on the event, click here to read a story by Nancy Fisher about the early days when we first played our Christmas concert. This article is from last year’s Del Mar Sandpiper Newspaper.

You can bring the whole gang, bring the relatives, meet strangers that are friendly and meet musicians that are strange. This is how we do Christmas in Cali! See you there!

That’s it folks and thanks for reading.

all best, Peter


“Just One of Those Things”
This is a track from my Musica Del Mar recording and I was thinking about Jim Hall when I played it. Not that I can play like him but I loved his relaxed vibe on a more uptempo song. Check out the ending of the tune too and you’ll hear more Jim Hall-isms. Bebop! Check it out!