Jim Peterik is best known for his rock work in the Ides of March (“Vehicle”) and Survivor (“Eye of the Tiger”). But on his most recent recordings — including “Forces At Play,” which came out Sept. 6 — the Illinois guitarist and songwriter has taken a turn toward smooth jazz.
Or, as he prefers to call it, “jazz that rocks.”
“It’s a little softer,” says Peterik, 60, “but it’s not sleepy, elevator jazz at all. It’s got some edge to it.”
Peterik comes to the genre honestly, and by personal taste. “I’d get off tour with REO (Speedwagon) or Bryan Adams or Triumph, any number of the bands Survivor toured with, and the last thing I wanted to listen to was AC/DC,” Peterik says. “I really like to chill out to smooth jazz sounds — Larry Carlton, Dave Grusin, Acoustic Alchemy, those blue-chip jazz people.
“Finally my wife said, ‘Y’know what? Why don’t you do some of that?’ At first I was like, ‘Nah, I’m a [i]rock[/i] guy!, but I found I can love it.”
Peterik foresees the jazz work as a going concern, although he continues to play with the Ides of March. And with the 30th anniversary of “Eye of the Tiger” — written for the “Rocky III” soundtrack — due next year, a Survivor reunion could be in the cards.
“I left Survivor in ’96,” Peterik notes. “The other guys still have their version of Survivor out there. I think there might be some fence-mending to do before anything happens in a major way, but it is a great milestone. 1982 was a very good year, and it amazes me that song is still around, so we’ll see.”
Jim Peterik performs with Alexander Zonjic & Friends at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Flat Rock Riverfest in Huron Park, 28700 Arsenal Road. The festival starts at noon, and other performers include Annabelle Road, David Shelby and Joe McBride. Admission is free. Call 734-782-2455 or visit www.flatrockmi.org.
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