Peter Mulvey likes to sing his own songs but he’s also embraced the composing geniuses of others.
Mulvey’s latest CD, “The Good Stuff,” is a testament to his inclusiveness. It spills over with fresh interpretations of covers.
The recording includes Mulvey doing Willie Nelson’s “Are You Sure?” Tom Waits’ “Green Grass,” Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” and Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo.”
|If you go
WHAT: Singer/guitarist Peter Mulvey
WHEN and WHERE: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15 at Garrett’s Desert Inn, 311 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe; and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Old San Ysidro Church, Old Church Road, Corrales
HOW MUCH: For the Santa Fe concert, tickets are $20 in advance at www.brownpapertickets.com or $22 at the door. For the Corrales concert, tickets are $22 in advance at www.brownpapertickets.com or at Frame-n-Art Gallery or $25 at the door
Asked why he chose that particular Ellington classic, Mulvey told a story that related to another Ellington tune.
“I had had a long-standing relationship with ‘I’m Beginning to See the Light.’ I do it uptempo and swinging. I had just recorded that on (the CD) ‘Redbird,’” Mulvey said in a phone interview from his Milwaukee, Wis., home.
“I thought if I was going to do a record of American iconic songs, you have to address Ellington.”
He had listened to two versions of the lament “Mood Indigo” with lyrics, one on a recording featuring Ellington with Louis Armstrong. The other, which was done by a friend of Mulvey’s, opened up to him the possibility of doing the song with acoustic guitar.
“I know it’s obvious that Ellington takes a blues form (with the song) and adds a slightly more modernist architecture in terms of the harmony,” Mulvey said.
“Once you take it out of a band setting and put it on a guitar, you have a light-bulb moment: Wow! This is a blues tune. It was a delight waking up to that.”
Mulvey said he’s a big fan of Ellington, the brothers George and Ira Gershwin and composer-pianist Hoagy Carmichael. He recalled that he was once sitting in the Philadelphia airport writing out the chords to Carmichael’s “Skylark.”
Mulvey currently has 33 versions of “Skylark” on his iPod. And one day, quite by accident, he was listening to some tunes on it alphabetically and realized that coming up were those many versions of the song.
“One of these days I’d love to write a short essay about music and composition, but the lens of it would be the 33 versions of ‘Skylark,’” he said.
Over the years the veteran Mulvey has shared concert stages with Emmylou Harris, Ani DiFranco and the Indigo Girls, among others.