The Frontline!

Aye, aye Captain!

There’s a hurricane brewing down south and some ocean waves are expected up here in the north. Happy news for us surfers!

It’s my early morning ritual — gray flat ocean, go out no matter what. It sets the brain straight.

El brain needs to be straight to be able to count pages. It turns out that last week’s missive about the SJ surf article was missing a page (thanks Lyn for letting me know). It now makes more sense:

The missing page from the article.

Last week I was teaching at the UCSD Jazz Camp — yay young gifted musos jumping off the cliff to a career in jazz. If it works it couldn’t be a better design for a life. I love it!

Also last week, a stellar uplifting concert at Dizzy’s honoring the great Butch Lacy who left this fine planet in search of new sonic vistas. Bless the good man and we played his songs and more, shared tales of wild escapades in downtown La Jolla in the 80’s, gazed into a fine collection of photos from over the years, and reconnected with his daughter Piper and her spirited family. What an inspired evening!

In search of the Lacy sound with (left to right) Barnaby Finch, Mark Lessman, Gunnar Biggs, Duncan Moore, and Peter.
photos by Michael Oletta

This week I’m thrilled to announce the release of my new album called Samba Andaluza. I’m really happy with the music and here’s the background on how it came to be:

For the last set of years I’ve had a group called the Peter Sprague String Consort. We’ve made two recordings and have enjoyed playing numerous concerts. It’s one of my favorite vehicles for composing and it’s a beautiful sound— the mix of a classical string quartet with the funk of a jazz trio. Two of the core players from that group are Bridget Dolkas who plays violin and Lars Hoefs who plays cello. Both are exquisite musicians with a jazz sense of time and a sound that’s irresistible. 

From time to time we would branch off and explore a smaller version of the Consort with just the three of us. This too has a unique feel and sound with the violin carrying the melody, the cello supplying the low-end, sometimes playing with the bow, sometimes playing pizzicato and supporting the ensemble like a bass. And for me I’ve got all of this freedom to fill out the middle section of the music.

This project has come together over the last 3 years. Lars has a full time teaching position at a university in Brazil and we’ve had to time things when he’s on his summer break. When in San Diego we would team up, rehearse, play a few concerts and record a couple songs at my studio. Over the years we’ve gathered enough music and now it’s happily making it’s way into the real world.

Samba Andaluza —it’s the title of this album but also the title of one of my songs. This composition, and most of the music on this recording carry with them the influence of Brazil, jazz, and Spain. Andalusia is an area in southern Spain, home of flamenco music and rich in artistic culture. For my song I mix together the Brazilian samba with the Andalusian flavor. For our group too, we like the blend of jazz with classical and exploring different musical styles and colors.

We’d love you to check out the music and you can find it here:

or here:

or here:


For live music this week we have only one public concert and it takes place on Saturday night at the famous Java Joe’s in Old Town. It’ll be me on guitar along with vocalist/guitarist Nina Francis, the young Kate Sprague on vocals, and my brother Tripp on sax/flute and percussion. It’s a Sprague Family hang with Nina and we sometimes refer to the band as “The Frontline”. Most bands have a rhythm section and then “the frontline” of vocalists and horns. We’re on a budget and there isn’t enough physical space on stage so we just go right to the frontline setup and let the sonic magic pour in. What a sound, what a vibe, you’ve got to hear it for yourself! We hope to see you there!

Peter and Nina rehearsing at SpragueLand

One last treat, my hero Paul McCartney has done a Carpool Karaoke with James Corden and it’s a true delight. They cruise through Liverpool singing and carrying on and we’re all along for the ride. It’s already logged 24 million views and check it out here:

adios, Peter

Skunks, Disney, and the Surf Mag!

Hey Friends, in Encinitas this is the time for skunks!

Every early evening in our yard, a parade of the little cuties slowly moves by, looking for tidbits.

Skunks at SpragueLand!

And then last week I had a neat gig with Dianne Reeves and the band at the amazing Walt Disney Hall. Great music and killer vibe!

Last week at Disney Hall with Dianne Reeves!
photo by Stefanie Sprague

Super surf stoke, just out, the latest edition of The Surfer’s Journal has a seven page article (pics too) on “The Schooled Chaos of Jazz: Peter Sprague finds the harmony between pursuits—one selfish, one giving”. This astute and creative writer/surfer named Kimball Taylor took it upon himself to grill me about how surfing and music work in tandem. We surfed, went out to breakfast, he even came by an outdoor gig with his little baby, and after all that, we may have come to some profound universal truth.  

Sound wave + ocean wave = fun!

Maybe, maybe not, but one thing I know, this magazine is one of the prettiest of periodicals ever and to be included in an issue is a life long dream. 

Check it out:

On the weekly gig front it starts out on Thursday night at the Mission Brewery near Petco Park. Leonard procured this gig and he say’s it’s a cool place and we’ll have fun. I believe him and hope you can launch out and join in.

I’ve got some funny chord going on and Leonard’s trying to memorize the fingering.
Photo by Steve Wood

On Friday night we’re bringing together the whole jazz community to Celebrate Butch Lacy. It’ll be at Dizzy’s and Gunnar’s leading things off along with Barnaby Finch on piano, Mark Lessman on sax, Kevyn Lettau singing, Duncan drumming, and me strumming.

Back in the early 1980’s Butch was our man of music. Swinging like Wynton Kelly, composing up a storm, a jazz orator and spokesperson of the highest order. A bunch of the young musicians of our era studied with Butch, performed with Butch and for certain laughed the night away with Butch. Funny cat! 

I learned a lot of my reharmonization tricks from Butch. He could take “Amazing Grace” and transform the already gem of a song and make it sparkle in a new fresh way, never jazz damaging the natural feel of the original tune.

When you played a concert with Butch, he’d stand up from the piano between songs and talk with the audience about where the next song was heading. He had stories to share and this was new back then — the idea (the folksters have always been good at this) of including the audience into what makes the music work and what we, the musos are thinking about. This had a profound impact on the folks that listened to Butch. They loved him! Of course they loved his music but through his words and vibe they also made a human connection. 

It’ll be a night of Butch’s music, songs that he wrote and standards that he loved. Hope to see you there!

Here’s Butch playing in the studio on our first record ever! It was 1975 and the recording was called “You Make Me Want To Sing”.
photo by Hall Sprague

George Varga’s article about the gig.

I have strong ties to Del Mar! I grew up there and know the magic of the backstreets and the trails leading off into incredible kid imagination universes. That’s where we learned to surf and our first band, The Minor Jazz Quintet (we were all minors) had a steady Sunday gig at the Golden Rolling Belly on 15th St. and Coast Highway.

So it is with great pleasure that the higher ups in Del Mar have included my brother Tripp and I in the opening celebration of the new Del Mar Civic Center on Saturday afternoon. They built this incredible new world right there at 11th Street and we’ll fill the air with music as folks get their first chance of seeing where it’s at. Me too, I want a tour! Where the building sits now, back in my day, was a Catholic School and me and the gang used to zip through the grounds on our bikes. I remember cool jumps (helmets weren’t invented yet) and living the dream of Del Mar. 

On Saturday we’re returning to the dream and hope you will too!

The Sprague Brothers riding again with Peter in the front and Tripp the captive passenger.

Friends, that’s the story for this week and it’ll be good to see you. 

all the best, Peter


That’s right, the ocean is up. Practicing the guitar now but a little later, going off to experience the wild blue! 

Hope you get to too.

Tomorrow at noon, it’s Tripp, Mack, and me playing a set at the Encinitas Library. We’ve got a neat selection of tune-age. Join in!

The trio with PS, Tripp, and Mack.

one love, Peter