My Spanish Heart

 

Hello Fine Folks!

Coming to you at the same time Chick Corea and Gary Burton are entering the air space over here at SpragueLand. It’s Native Sense and it’s pristine lines and grooving rhythm. These guys together make the music levitate and it’s a joy to soak it up.

This leads us right into this week’s edition of Live(ish) From SpragueLand.

Live(ish) at SpragueLand Episode 23
My Spanish Heart
Peter Sprague Plays Chick Corea
Sunday, September 19, 2021
7pm

For this livestream we’re celebrating the great music that Chick composed. Some of the songs that we’ll play include “My Spanish Heart,” a new reworked PS version of “Spain,” “Tap Step,” and “Samba L.A.” featuring our special remote guest Aubrey Johnson phoning it in from NYC. As we like to do, we’ll put a few tunes together for a medley of sorts plus Digital Brian will share his research findings for all things Chick.

Here’s the lineup for the show:

Peter Sprague — guitar
Tripp Sprague — sax and flute
Danny Green — piano
Mack Leighton — bass
Duncan Moore — drums
and special guest Aubrey Johnson – vocals

YouTube link for the concert

I’d say one of the most influential musicians that’s helped shape my arc in music is jazz pianist Chick Corea. He and his music have been there right from the beginning. I’d buy his recordings, study his tunes, transcribe his solos, and read his interviews to learn more about how he viewed life and music.

Back when I was a student at Interlochen Arts Academy I wrote Chick a note requesting the music to his tune “What Game Shall We Play Today?” I also let him know (jokingly) that if he was ever looking for a guitarist, I was most likely available for the gig. He sent the music and wrote back, “we’ll see, won’t we.” 

Move ahead a few years, on my third record for Xanadu Records (Bird Raga) I played a twenty-minute solo guitar medley of Chick’s tunes. Chick agreed to write the liner notes for the album and it turned out he liked the way I played. First, he asked me to play at his then famous annual Valentines Day party. The parties were a combination of incredible desserts, socializing, and then an unforgettable talent show featuring the cast of the amazing artists present. We’re talking Al Jarreau, Herbie Hancock, Roger Williams (“Autumn Leaves”), Wayne Shorter, Steve Kujala, Hubert Laws, Victor Feldman, a young John Pattituci, poets and actors, Chick’s daughter Lelee, Chick with a mini orchestra, and the surfer from Del Mar, me! The event took place at Chick’s Griffith Park castle complete with two grand pianos in a cathedral like living room. 

Either Chick liked what I played that night or he at least dug my energy. Either way, he then hired me to play some gigs with his band. We rehearsed for a couple of days, and I debuted with the band for a series of concerts at Disneyland on the Memorial Day weekend. In a review the following day in the Los Angeles Times, jazz critic Leonard Feather wrote about me,”…One of the emergent great guitarists.” A pretty stellar moment for the kid who got to play with his hero!

Chick’s gig at Disneyland, an “E ticket” to the hilt! Me on the left, Chick on the right. He’s surrounded by an aura of light and an arsenal of digital keyboards. June, 1984.

 

That’s Tom Brechtlein’s drum kit on the left and Jamie Faunt on the bass. Peter with Chick, 1984.

Memorable Chick moment number two found us joined by Al Jarreau playing for thousands of folks at the outdoor mall in Washington D.C.. When I came out on that stage and looked out at the sea of people, trading licks on “Spain” with Chick Corea and Al Jarreau, I knew this was some magic territory and I took it all in. 

In 1989 Chick scored a movie sound track for The Cat Chasers, starring Kelly McGillis. I was part of the band including Vinnie Callouta on drums, Chick, Pattittuci, and Steve Kujala on flute. We recorded some classic Chick Spanish-flamenco tunes.

Around this time I began organizing Chick’s music into book form for publishing. He liked the fact that I knew his music inside and out so he’d turn me loose to make sense of a pile of scores that needed updating in the process of making their way to the record. I’d take his sheet music, listen to the record and modify what was new. I would then put it on the computer, instill as much clarity and intuition as I could, and then bounce the new scores back and forth a few times until everyone was satisfied. I completed 6 books for him (all available from Hal Leonard Publishing) plus my own transcription book of Chick’s piano solos called Jazz Solos of Chick Corea published by Sher Music. In 1992 Chick was kind enough to send some praise my way for the books we worked on. “Peter Sprague’s excellence as a musician is well demonstrated in his live and recorded performances. He has had the patience and musicality to take my original scores and, together with the recorded renditions of these compositions, make final drafts that have become the last few Elektric Band music books. They are the most accurate music books that I’ve published. I don’t know anyone I would trust more to correctly transcribe my improvisations.” That’s a big deal. Thanks Chick!

One last Chick Corea story and this one centers around GRP Records. They we’re doing their first GRP All-Star Big Band recording and they wanted Chick to play and arrange his tune “Spain” for the big band. Chick had a conflict in his schedule and asked if I’d arrange the tune for the band. I leaned into it, spent two weeks figuring out who should play what and when and then made my way to the only rehearsal to see what the piece sounded like. I don’t know how to conduct but there I was, flailing and directing traffic in front of the likes of Lee Ritenour, Dave Weckl, Tom Scott, Ernie Watts, Kenny Kirkland, and the list goes on. I actually didn’t have much to do directing these great musicians. Right out of the gate the band was on fire. They recorded the tune the next day and it’s on the GRP All-Star Big Band CD and video.

Here’s the YouTube vid of the recording:

Chick left us this last year and we’re missing him dearly. He played up a storm all the way to the end.

Hope to see you at the show!

best, Peter

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, old reliable snail mailing checks works too. You folks have been super generous with this and it makes us happy.

Paypal: petersprague@sbcglobal.net
(It’ll show up as Satyam Music, that’s my music company)
Venmo: @PeterSprague
Zelle: Peter Sprague peter@petersprague.com
mail checks via snail mail to: Peter Sprague
311 East Glaucus St.
Encinitas, CA 92024

A few notes:

You don’t have to watch the show live. The same YouTube link will bring up the recording for you to view anytime.

If you do watch it live (and we recommend this), you can participate in the live chat during the concert as long as you have a YouTube account.  

Click here https://youtu.be/MEaCbZ-DlqQ to watch a vid, leading you through the easy process of creating a YouTube account.

Maybe do this before the concert begins.

If you do have an account and you’re logged in, you can type something fun into the chat box and that’s how we create modern day jazz community in this era of the pandemic. Maybe start with something simple like “Hi, this is Lisa from Wyoming” or “Hi, I’m Reggie from Portland.” By doing this we’ve got an app that will magically take your name and location and drop a pin on a spinning globe. During the show we’ll visit all of the listeners and say hi and marvel at your exotic places of residence.  No worries about privacy…How many Lisa’s are in the entire state of Wyoming? Or “Reggie’s in Portland, Maine?

You Can Call Me Peter!

 

Dear Good Ones!

I’ve been putting in some long hours exploring the fine details of Paul Simon’s music and loving every minute of it. Almost every minute.

It turns out writing the sheet music is a laborious long task that essentially needs to be done. Once done, the charts find their way into the hands of the gifted musos who read up a storm and magically and quickly make the music come together. Wouldn’t it be nice if Digital Brian could manipulate an algorithm that could write out the music that I’m hearing in my head?

I’ll get him working on that but in the meantime we’re prepping for a livestream show that’ll lift off one week from today.

Live(ish) at SpragueLand Episode 22
Angels In the Architecture
Peter Sprague Plays The Music of Paul Simon
Friday, August 27, 2021
7pm

I’ve been a huge fan of Paul Simon’s music ever since I first heard the opening chord sequence of “Scarborough Fair” and the way the vocals start expanding into majestic counterpoint. Moving from there, 20 years later, we arrive at a situation where a man’s contemplating why he’s soft in the middle when the rest of his life is so hard. He sings “I can call you Betty and Betty, when you call me, you can call me Al.”

Paul Simon’s lyrics are something special to behold. I heard him talk about his process and one of the stages involved bouncing a ball against a wall and going over and over the words and phrases until they were just right—never settling for a cheap rhyme or solution. It shows, these are big league stories and big league lyrics.

Next you add the melody and the chord progressions which are a steep step up from three chord justice. But then, when he was creating the Graceland album with the African influence he embraced three chords as if that’s all that mattered.

Versatile fellow and I think it’s time to celebrate his creations through our jazz lens.

For this livestream concert we’ve got Allison Adams Tucker lined up to sing vocals along with Tripp Sprague on sax, piano, and flute; Justin Grinnell on bass; Duncan Moore on drums; and me on guitar. Also our vid switcher Steve Grant will make a special musical appearance.

Some of the songs that we’ll play include “Cecilia,” “Hearts and Bones,” “Sound of Silence,” and “You Can Call Me Al.” As we like to do, we’ll add our own jazz angle into the blend for a unique sonic experience.

Here’s to seeing angels in the architecture spinning into infinity!

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, old reliable snail mailing checks works too. You folks have been super generous with this and it makes us happy.

Paypal: petersprague@sbcglobal.net
(It’ll show up as Satyam Music, that’s my music company)
Venmo: @PeterSprague
Zelle: Peter Sprague peter@petersprague.com
mail checks via snail mail to: Peter Sprague
311 East Glaucus St.
Encinitas, CA 92024

A few notes:
You don’t have to watch the show live. The same YouTube link will bring up the recording for you to view anytime.

If you do watch it live (and we recommend this), you can participate in the live chat during the concert as long as you have a YouTube account. 

Click here https://youtu.be/MEaCbZ-DlqQ to watch a vid, leading you through the easy process of creating a YouTube account. Maybe do this before the concert begins.

If you do have an account and you’re logged in, you can type something fun into the chat box and that’s how we create modern day jazz community in this era of the pandemic. Maybe start with something simple like “Hi, this is Lisa from Wyoming” or “Hi, I’m Reggie from Portland.” By doing this we’ve got an app that will magically take your name and location and drop a pin on a spinning globe. During the show we’ll visit all of the listeners and say hi and marvel at your exotic places of residence.  No worries about privacy…How many Lisa’s are in the entire state of Wyoming? Or “Reggie’s in Portland, Maine?

you can call me Al, Peter

Bebopian Leonard Cohen Music!

 

Hola Solid Folk!

We’ve been getting out there a little and last weekend we played a live hit on Beth’s deck overlooking a canyon with wild brush and windy gusts. We had Steve Kujala in the house along with Rebecca, Gunnar, Danny Green, Duncan, and Beth. StevieLand Morris songs were on the sonic menu and oh how it’s classic to play live!

Last weekend on the deck stirring up beautiful noise with Beth Ross-Buckley, Steve Kujala, Rebecca Jade, and PS.

Up for this week on Friday we’re in a trio format with Tripp, Justin Grinnell and me live at Ki’s in the outdoors. It’s a cool setup with the pacific ocean on one side and on the other is Ki’s Restaurant serving up fine and nutritious food. Us in the middle playing bebopian Leonard Cohen blendo for good health and peace of mind.

Join in if you can!

all best, Peter