In the early 1980’s we took a plane and landed in the charmingly primitive Lahui Airport on the Garden Island of Kauai. It was me, my brother Tripp, and John Leftwich and the mission was to share the music and search for surf-able ocean waves. Mike Smith, a one time guitar student of mine back in earlier San Diego days, was our guide and he led the way to the music venues and remote surf locales. It’s on that trip that we drove to the end of the road and discovered the magical Kalalau Trail weaving it’s way through the Na Pali Coast. It was a mind blowing visual experience and it’s a must do activity every time we return to the island.
Right around this same time I heard Chick Corea’s band play a concert at The Roxy Theatre in Pacific Beach and here again, another life changing experience. In the group was a flute player named Steve Kujala who was not only shredding Corea’s intricate melody lines but was also bending notes on the flute in a way that I’ve never heard before. I just had an intuition that if the two of us were to play together some magic might happen. I phoned him in L.A. and to my pleasant surprise he was willing to collaborate. Since that first rehearsal we had a connection and this led to a zillion gigs and concerts, master classes in Chicago, a duo tour through the midwest, numerous recording projects both mine and his, and at the core of this collaboration, a friendship complete with a built in laugh track that has endured and flourished.
Steve Kujala is ‘da man!
We’re gearing up for a livestream concert this week! In the band are my two other life long cohorts John Leftwich on bass and Duncan Moore on the drums. John lives in L.A. now but we’ve been playing together since high school in Encinitas. He’s had a fantastic career recording and touring with the best including Carmen McCrae, Ricki Lee Jones, Hubert Laws, and Chet Baker. He’s a true low-end avatar! Duncan on the drums has been my rhythmic compadre for almost my whole life and he’s got creativity and rhythmic precision at the core of his craft. He’s also ‘da man…
For this show the setlist is a mix of samba, swing, classical (Kujala’s dad Wally held the principal piccolo chair for the Chicago Symphony for his entire career, so to put it mildly, Steve grew up in a household steeped in the classical tradition,) a new bop blues inspired by Charlie Parker that I just composed, and, no Sprague / Kujala concert would be complete without Kujala’s gorgeous exploration into note bending called the “Fretless Flute.” This alone is worth the price of admission!
Price of admission? Actually the concert is free but we will have a “virtual tip jar” complete with PayPal, Zelle and Venmo info for you to donate whatever you feel good about. Also good old snail mailing checks works too. Over the entire run of Live(ish) From SpragueLand you folks have been so generous and thoughtful and we thank you kindly for this.
mail checks via snail mail to: Peter Sprague
311 East Glaucus St.
Encinitas, CA 92024
Next, coming up at the top of next week we’re thrilled to be invited to play a duo livestream show for The Athenaeum in La Jolla. It’ll be Leonard Patton and myself and the word on the street is that they have good tech going on with their series. Good sound and good cams and we’ll drum up some good music to fill it out. Here are the details:
hang ten, Peter