Sprague writes for the singers
Reviewed September 2010
Calling Me Home
By Peter Sprague
SBE Records: 2010
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
As a regular member of jazz singer Dianne Reeves' touring band, Encinitas-based jazz guitarist Peter Sprague certainly knows how to frame a singer's performance. And while Sprague regularly features vocalists in his local performances and on his recordings, he's never released an album of his own compositions featuring vocals on every track.
Which makes "Calling Me Home" a neat, unique entry in Sprague's 30-plus year recording career.
Regular Sprague cohorts Kevyn Lettau (with whom he recorded the 2008 vocals and guitar outing "What Is Enough?"), Leonard Patton, Lisa Hightower, Kate Fuller and Allison Adams Tucker guest on vocals, while bassist Gunnar Biggs and drummer Duncan Moore assist Sprague in providing the foundation.
The playing and singing are consistently of the highest order, and Sprague rightly renowned for the superb taste and creativity his playing breaks out into some pretty heavy technical wizardry on some of the songs that displays a new side to his playing.
On a bit of a downside, none of the 10 songs here has a particularly catchy melody; on Sprague's instrumental releases, that's not even an issue because the tremendous playing creates its own vibe for the listener. But on an album with lead vocals on every track, it can be more of a challenge for the listener to stay engaged without a strong hook on which to hang our interest.
Still, Patton is hugely under-recorded, so it's a joy to have some of his and Sprague's interactions saved for posterity, and Sprague and Lettau have such a musical empathy it's a delight to hear anything they create together.
Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).