While attending the Kettle Moraine Jazz Festival this year, I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy a performance by a band named Lifeforce, led by legendary guitarist and band leader, Jim Peterik. They came on just before the headlining act and soon captured the audience’s rapt attention. You may not know the name Jim Peterik, but chances are you know his music. In a career that now spans four decades, Peterik has been responsible for writing some of the biggest hits of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Peterik is a consummate professional and gifted performer with an engaging, high energy personality. We were reminded that his skills include being a talented vocalist and awesome
guitar player. As our memories were jogged, he is also a brilliant, award-winning songwriter. Recognizing big hits from bands Survivor and The Ides of March, we were treated to his jazz infused renditions of “Eye of The Tiger” and “Vehicle.” Peterik’s set was so compelling and entertaining, I am inspired to share this experience with you by showcasing his new CD, Jim Peterik's Lifeforce
What’s a rock superstar doing in a place like West Bend, Wisconsin? Peterik has just released his first smooth jazz project, Jim Peterik's Lifeforce
. Would you have ever guessed that behind the rock legend was a musician immersing himself in smooth jazz and new age?
Jim Peterik's Lifeforce
is an outgrowth of many musical influences as far back as the early ‘60s. Jim Peterik's journey through music now takes a smooth and warm turn into the world of jazz, but this isn't just any old jazz. The melodies and vibe will be instantly familiar to all who follow Peterik's work. On the new CD, there are jazz arrangements of two of his biggest hits, "Eye Of The Tiger" and "Vehicle," along with new, uplifting songs written for expressly for Lifeforce
. "The Search Is Over" has been rearranged as a duet between Peterik and Lisa McClowry, a rising jazz diva who is featured with him throughout this album. McClowry also performs the songs she wrote with Peterik, the driving, feisty “Unconditional Surrender” and “Morning Song.” Lisa, who has sung rock, pop, and ballads, can scat with the best of them. At the jazz festival, she impressed the crowd by holding her own confidently and comfortably on stage. On the CD, she is a powerhouse and major contributor to Lifeforce’s sound.
Among the other tracks, “Joy” and “Secret of the Way” are reminiscent of Acoustic Alchemy’s easy going, guitar-led, instrumental jazz style, with contributions from the very talented Steve Eisen on flute. On sax, Eisen adds gorgeous textures to the title track sung by McClowry. The CD’s spunky instrumental version of "Vehicle" is brought to life by the interplay of Eisen’s soulful sax, John Larson’s impressive trumpet solos, and Peterik’s searing guitar. It has become one of my favorite tracks on the album. Inspired by Sting, Peterik wrote this alluring, mysterious song, “Ghost Orchid.” The recording features Peterik’s lead vocals accompanied by McClowry’s haunting backing. The instrumental “Interrupted Melody” once again showcases Eisen’s powerful sax playing entwined with Peterik’s driving guitar.
The album, produced by Peterik and Larry Millas, features some of the world's finest musicians: Ed Breckenfeld on drums, Chuck Soumar on percussion, Mike Aquino and Peterik on guitar, Klem Hayes on bass, Christian Cullen, Scott May, Jeff Lantz, and Peterik on keyboards, Steve Eisen on sax and flute, John Larson on trumpet (“Vehicle”), Larry Milas’ drum programming, Peterik and Lisa McClowry on vocals. Special guests include guitarist Nick Colionne (“Lifeforce”), electric upright bassist Sharay Reed (“Morning Song”), and Larry Gray on acoustic upright bass (“Ghost Orchid.”)
Peterik said, "My wife of 35 years, Karen, and I have been huge fans since day one of Pat Metheny, David Grusin, Spyro Gyra, Keiku Matsui, Acoustic Alchemy, Basia and so many more. Writing and performing this style myself is just a natural progression from fan to artist."
"My message and mood is positive and uplifting," Peterik said. "I feel that visualization of your desired outcome is the first step to actualization. This theme, as well as making sure we appreciate each day, runs through my songs."
Before we part, you must know about the guitars Jim Peterik plays. During his live gig, he brought out at least six different guitars, each is an amazing, painted work of art. You’ve got to take a look at www.catpeterikartguitars.com
For more information on Jim Peterik and Lifeforce, visit www.jimpeterik.com