Now Hear This: Jeff Pevar

When Jeff Pevar credits his “Yiddish Angels” for guiding his debut solo album, From the Core [Pet Peev Music/], he isn’t kidding.
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WHEN JEFF PEVAR CREDITS HIS “YIDDISH ANGELS” FOR GUIDING HIS DEBUT SOLO album, From the Core [Pet Peev Music/], he isn’t kidding. In 2010, Pevar was commissioned to write music for The Marble Halls of Oregon—a PBS documentary on the Oregon Caves National Monument. Typically, the sideman for artists such as James Taylor, Rickie Lee Jones, Joe Cocker, and CSN would start and finish the project in his home studio. But the angels had another plan, and Pevar was invited to record his pieces inside the caves.

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“It was quite the unique experience,” he says. “It took 30 minutes to walk to the largest cavern—‘The Ghost Room’—where we set everything up. The caves were chilly and condensation dripped from the rock walls. You can hear it during quiet moments of the recordings.”

Pevar decided not to compose his pieces beforehand, as he had a premonition the setting would strongly influence his improvisations. He went in with an A. Davis dreadnought and an Ovation Mandocello, and three-hours later, he had 12 solo acoustic performances.

“Everything was spontaneously conceived in the caves—one piece after the other, one take on each piece, without any idea of how the music would begin or unfold,” says Pevar.

It was only after the session that Pevar visualized the improvisations as the foundation of a solo album. So he brought the cave tracks to his home studio and overdubbed mandolin, banjo, Dobro, ukulele, and other acoustic instruments. And the angels were still contributing licks, as well …

“On a whim, I sent the track ‘River of Dreams’ to Jon Anderson of Yes, and, to my delight, he wrote lyrics and sent back a recording of his vocals just a few hours later,” says Pevar. “I love that everything about this project feels guided by divine intervention.”