Recognized as “one of the most prolific cultural influencers to come out of Nashville” (Bright Revolution), Grammy® award-winning record producer Charlie Peacock adds another chapter to his diverse musical story – When Light Flashes, his 4th jazz recording (2/16/18). The album features saxophonist Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones), Jim Black collaborator Hilmar Jensson on guitar, bassist Felix Pastorius, drummer Ben Perowsky and trumpeter Matthew White.
As the sonic architect behind best-selling music duo The Civil Wars, Peacock is largely known for his deft and moving productions, including “Misery Chain” by the late Chris Cornell from the soundtrack of Twelve Years a Slave and “Hush,” the title theme to the AMC drama Turn: Washington’s Spies featuring Joy Williams and The National’s Matt Berninger.
Though it’s been decades since legendary impresarios “Bill Graham and Chris Blackwell plucked him from the San Francisco punk/pop underground and pegged him for stardom” (Keyboard), Peacock has forged a varied career propelled by his curiosity. In 2014, Peacock explained it this way: “I’ve never been one to put too much stock in commercial peaks. Thankfully (as a producer) I’ve had several, but I’ve always been after a lasting career – one that never peaks – just gets better. Artists I admire, like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Herbie Hancock have that kind of career story – basically a life of making music rooted in America, and that’s a music I know and love.”
Peacock seems content with “making music for the sheer joy of it” (Performing Songwriter). Never has this ethos been so evident as on When Light Flashes, where Peacock’s “universe of contemporary sound sculpture” (All About Jazz) is in full force blending fiddle, mandolin and accordion with the building blocks of a jazz quintet and a few laptop glitches and treatments.
Peacock’s special guests on When Light Flashes include Nashville neighbors Jeff Taylor on accordion (The Time Jumpers, Elvis Costello), fiddler/mandolinist Andy Leftwich (Ricky Skaggs) and A-Team session phenom Jerry McPherson on electric guitar. Bassists Matt Wigton and Scott Mulvahill, synthesist Tony Miracle and drummer Jordan Perlson also contribute.
Peacock delights in creating a mix of New York and Nashville players. His 2005 jazz debut Love Press Ex-Curio combined Nashvillians Victor Wooten and Jeff Coffin with New Yorkers James Genus and Ravi Coltrane for what Jazz Times called “jazz sensibility with rock-soul fervor.” By featuring Grammy® award-winning bluegrass fiddler Andy Leftwich on When Light Flashes, Peacock explores the contrast even further. As listeners have come to expect, this makes perfect sense to Peacock:
“I was raised by a California-born, improvising trumpet-playing father whose grandfather was a Louisiana fiddler. Maybe that explains a little of my ability to move fluidly between several varieties of American music, whether it’s rooted in Hank Williams or Miles Davis.”
Following Love Press Ex-Curio (2005), Peacock released Arc of the Circle (2008), an improvisational duets record with saxophonist Jeff Coffin featuring contributions from Marc Ribot and Derrek Phillips. Lemonade, a solo piano recording released in 2014, peaked at #4 on the Billboard Jazz Chart. All of Peacock’s jazz recordings have charted Top 5.
Born in rural northern California, Peacock at various times has listed everything from agriculture to the late pianist Andrew Hill as influences.
“The goal, as I see it, is to live and create in a mixed playground of familiarity and surprise. All your influences as a cultural person will provide the familiarity, but it will take imagination for surprise to happen – for you to actually end up somewhere unexpected. The values of familiarity and surprise inform all my work as a musical artist and record producer. I love making moments in music pay homage to the music I’ve been influenced by. Along with this freedom, I never stop asking if there are new places the music might also go. I let my imagination run with the possibilities and present back to me options that I can reject or receive and edit.”
In honor of his northern California roots, When Light Flashes includes a Peacock composition titled “Automatt” dedicated to producer David Rubinson and pianist Herbie Hancock. The Automatt was a Rubinson-owned studio in San Francisco where Hancock was based for several years. Peacock gives a nod to his mid-south Nashville roots, too, with “Wendell Berry in the Fields at Night,” a tribute to the celebrated southern agrarian poet of the same name. Six more songs round out the collection including two covers, “Still Water” by Daniel Lanois and “Masters of War” by Bob Dylan.
"Years have passed since [rock icons] Bill Graham and Chris Blackwell plucked him from the San Francisco punk/pop underground and pegged him for stardom. He moved to Music City in the late '80s and plunged into a ten-year run of full-time, Grammy-winning work as a producer. Peacock remains one of the most respected musicians in Nashville.
"Peacock has a gift for writing catchy pop melodies and spiritual lyrics void of cliche's."
"Charlie Peacock is an intelligent songwriter, producer, and performer with a distinctive voice and an equal affinity for the finer points of mature songwriting."