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Peter Kavanaugh Biography

As a guitarist, bandleader, composer and co-producer, what truly nourishes Peter Kavanaugh’s soul are jazz standards and the great American songbook. “I like injecting unexpected elements into songs from the great 20th century composers.”

Peter’s appreciation for the rich harmonic structure and deep chordal textures of standards can partly be attributed to his classes with Joe Pass — the jazz guitar icon best known for accompanying Sara Vaughn, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald.

A Los Angeles-area sideman for over a decade, Peter further developed his sound and style playing swing, gypsy jazz, blues, country, rockabilly and soul before taking center stage with the 2015 album “Whisper Not.”

His self-released debut established his West Coast Cool Jazz take on lesser-known nuggets from the American songbook, and was embraced by over 50 jazz radio stations across the country. Los Angeles-area jazz station KKJZ kept five album tracks in rotation for over six months.

Jazziz Magazine called “Whisper Not,” “A refreshingly old-school approach to songbook standards … he allows the original harmonies and melodies to shine, even as he overlays tones and textures from his vast library.” The UK jazz blog Bebop Spoken Here hailed the debut as, “A choice selection of tunes played to perfection.”

Peter’s 2016 follow-up album “Look for the Silver Lining,” built on the sophisticated, luxurious, midcentury sound of “Whisper Not” with its guitar and vibraphone base, but entered new territory with more horns, more blues, a tango, and fresh arrangements of tunes from Dave Brubeck, Rodgers & Hart and Jerome Kern.

More national and international airplay followed, and Peter was thrilled when his second self-release received a 4-star review from Downbeat Magazine — “Look for the Silver Lining says all it has to say without overstaying its welcome. That’s admirable in an era when “extended” recordings often try to make up for a lack of quality with quantity.”

Peter returned to the studio in late 2017 to begin his third album, which will be released in 2018 and concentrate more on his own original compositions. He promises there will be more surprises in store as he has been immersing himself in a wide range of musical genres to push his creativity and sound in new directions.