Reviews and PR

Best of Band X

released February 15, 2024, Riding Easy Records

With its tongue in cheek title, The Best of Band X (there had been no previous Band X releases) snuck into the record racks in 1976, the first the world was to hear from musician/producer/writer/arranger (and later all-American hero) Craig Peyton. Fitting in somewhere between contemporaries like Weather Report, Headhunters and Stone Alliance, Craig Peyton definitely ploughed his own musical furrow even in an exceptionally fertile era. Originally a jazz drummer and vibraphonist, Craig was interested in utilizing the potential of some of the new synthesizers that were coming onto the market in that era, (beating even Stevie Wonder to the use of the Fairlight keyboard). Band X consisted of Alan Grzyb, Victor Preston and Joey Bellomo alongside their auteur, Craig Peyton. Despite being, broadly speaking, ‘jazz’, Craig’s music had a synthetic feel and, like many musical conceptions of the future, sounds decidedly retro-cool today. Drummer Bellomo contributed synthesizer work, and horn-player Grzyb also contributed keyboards. Bass-man Preston also played trombone, and alongside Grzyb’s bassoon and clarinet and the assorted electronics, it was not your standard jazz ensemble. Quirky song titles (some of which wouldn’t sound out of place on a prog-rock album from the same time) confirm the image we have of a musical maverick. Much of the current demand for this very hard to find album owes itself to the track Home: many have remarked on its similarity to the classic Steely Dan sound of the same era; other reference points might be Shuggie Otis and Michael Franks. It’s a poignant, floaty and ultimately unique song, with Craig providing the ‘blue-eyed’ vocal, as he does on the other vocal track Afterthought, which also sounds like it could’ve happily lived alongside Shuggie’s Inspiration Information album. A vocal and a lively slice of sequencer space-funk with some truly trippy keyboard work, here’s another track with loads of potential for contemporary appreciation.Among the other tracks, many will warm to Rip Van Winkle wherein a simple, chugging, funky bass and drums/vibes figure provides the backdrop for some haunting reed work that’s accompanied by Joey Bellomo’s synths …kind of presaging the kind of sound Steps Ahead would become so popular with later. Meanwhile, Trullion Allastor 2262 has a pastoral horn sound again that again shows the possibly unconscious influence of English prog-rock, something like a mini-classical piece, and definitely hinting at the incidental music for TV with which Peyton would go on to become very successful with. Tunes like ORed Cloud and Picking Mushrooms with Rabbit demonstrate his facility with a variety of musical styles (the latter is actually four –or is it five?- tunes in one), incorporating motifs from classical and military music. A spirit of iconoclastic experimentalism exudes from this album, the first step in a long musical career for its main man. Peyton would go on to rename his band (with some personnel changes) The Craig Peyton Group ( who also worked as a musician and arranger with luminaries including as diverse as James Brown, Melba Moore, Nona Hendrix, Levon Helm and Dan Hartman, while work for TV took up much of his time. He had a big adult-contemporary hit with Latitude 40 Degrees North in 1995. And all-American hero? He also got his pilot’s license, and has produced acclaimed films documenting his flights, with his own aerial photography and music. In 2001, Craig was diagnosed with an oesophegal cancer that looked to be terminal, but was beaten by an experimental treatment that included both the advances of modern science and the help of a healer. Craig’s journey back from the brink was documented in his book, Cloudman, Surviving Stage IV Cancer: A New Beginning. 

Craig Peyton OVERFLIGHT   2023 Music release on Ulyssa Records

Ulyssa issue Craig Peyton’s Overflight, in which the venerable veteran vibraphonist’s career gets an extremely well-deserved thirty-three track salute: everywhere you listen there’s sparkling melodies, sweetback basslines, creamy horns and wistful memories. It’s what Jon and Ponch from the California Highway Patrol used to cruise the streets listening to (probably). It’s Daisy Duke shaking a tailfeather or two. It’s America utilising all the soft power in its locker: and yet the skill levels are such that you never really notice the join.

Drop the figurative needle wherever you choose and you’re surrounded by wonderful things. Deep Hawaii is an early favourite – keening, leaning into that fretless bass, the wind whistling through the palm trees. Hell yeah, you’re on vacation now and you’re loving every second: get room service to bring up another dose of the good funk.

Sure you might label it frivolous, but right now I’ll take all the frivolity you’ve got and more. It’s Martin Denny via way of Fire Island, if you like. Of course Craig’s famous cover of Be Thankful is included: a lo-fi throwdown version excursion of the highest order. Gino Soccio sideswiped by a bad case of electro blues. Patrick Cowley gone to seed. An alt-disco classic.

Inner Navigator rides drums that Geoff Barrow would die for: ‘Trust that inner voice to guide you…’ runs the lyric and the Spanish guitar riffs pull you in – helpless and loving it. The sweetest pain all over again. A backroom banger without a doubt.

Funky Boogie fires up from the kitschiest of beginnings: the soundtrack to a million day time soaps playing somewhere, somehow, over and over unto damnation. Hurts so good though: hurts so good. The vibes sliding in halfway through, expertly caressed into place. The players enjoying the ride, switching it up, switching it down, and ending with a hey nonny nonny no. Medieval badness.

There’s a whole world here, a sugar-spun creation designed and refined over many long years. There’s jazz and soul and disco wrapped in candy-coated flavours, sugary as hell but never sickly. It’s a million miles away from Albert Ayler of course, but let’s not kid ourselves: this is a collection of beautiful tunes polished until they bleed. We’re mixing metaphors now but what does it matter – there’s a depth and emotion to Overflight that truly marks it out as a special listen. An absolute peach of an album: you’ll be feasting on this for years to come.
Super review by Cal Gibson, of The Secret Soul Society. 


NPR ‘All Music Considered’ review 2/2024 

Craig Peyton, “Be Thankful for What You Got”

The Bloomington label Ulyssa understands the art and utility of the mixtape as a means to expose the stranger corners of music. It has released a Soundcloud rapper anthology, crate-dug streaming curiosities and doubled down on whatever “toe jazz” is. On the surface, Craig Peyton doesn’t seem to fit Ulyssa’s usual oddballs and outsiders: He wrote scores for PBS and BBC shows, was a regular musician on BET, produced house and R&B songs in ’80s NYC. (He was also the Flight Ambassador to the Bahamas?!) But from wonky fusion and smooth-prog to vibrant new age and some straight up elevator jazz, it’s like, who is this guy?! Here’s my favorite jam of the bunch, in which Peyton turns William DeVaughn’s smoove, two-chord hit “Be Thankful for What You Got” into a motorik, Giorgio Moroder-style groove.

Photography art show review 2023 Georgetown Arts Gallery

The Photos of Craig Peyton
By Melik Kaylan

In ancient times, Etruscan priests read the future in the clouds by observing
them from high places. However close they got, it would never be as close,
never as intimate, as Craig Peyton whose cloudscape works we see here.
Peyton has been flying for upwards of half a century in various personal
propeller planes, hour upon hour, day after day. By his reckoning he has lived
in that neighborhood of the empyrean solidly for virtually a year nonstop.
Every image he shot was done from one airplane, his Mooney M-20J which
he calls his ‘ecto-skeleton’. What we see in the show is a chronicle on multiple
levels. At the most basic level, we are witnessing the advancing technology of
aerial video and photography over time. And, from moment to moment, the
evanescent impenetrably mysterious changeability of clouds – however closely
we abide among them, they remain the other. As such we are witnessing also
a chronicle of Peyton’s own inscape, his frame-choice reaction to this most
enticing subject-matter, a sort of elemental counterpart to the nude with the
infinite interpretations and projections of mood, light and yearning it demands
of us.
As the story goes, Peyton was a successful participant in the wild New York
music scene of the 1980s. His band Latitude had produced a number 1
album. It was the decade that spawned music videos, launched the
transformative MTV/VH1 channel on cable, and the idea that every song
needed the accompaniment of a visual narrative. Already flying recreationally
by then, Peyton chose to film – yes film – the sky as content for his band’s
VH1 videos. His work was spotted by sharp corporate eyes who began to pay
him for just such footage to use in corporate, commercial and marketing
videos. He had stumbled rather accidentally into a second, more stable and
enduring career. From 16mm and 35mm film through the decades to the
present-day 360 degree digital cameras, from switching between video to still
cameras to catch a static moment, from handheld to wing-attached to early
drones, Peyton stayed at the forefront of the technology evolution and his
profession. Ultimately, he shot aerial footage for Hollywood movies. Which is
to say, he remained always and minutely a master of his medium, as much a
master as, say Constable or Magritte – both famous devotees of clouds – are
of their pigments and palettes.

The difference, of course, is that Peyton’s sensibility is informed as much by
music as art. It’s hard to say which comes first for him. He grew up
surrounded by the trappings of the latter, his parents being art teachers at the
private school at Wooster in Connecticut. His eye received more systematic
extended tutoring than his ear. Yet he chose music as his metier, perhaps as
an escape. Hold on to that concept of escape: a leitmotif beckons. At any rate,
we can be forgiven for seeking a confluence of the two, art and music, in his
cloud works. There’s a celebrated dictum, that architecture is frozen music. If
the assertion encapsulates a profound truth, how much more true must it be
when applied to Peyton’s clouds? In one sense, they instantly inspire in the
onlooker an inward accompaniment of stirring, serene, or haunting musical
backdrops. In another sense, they are a visual music, an expressionist
rendering of the acoustic experience. The whorls, the rhythms and spatial
harmonies. And then, more concretely, Peyton himself surely imagined a
music ambience while he pushed the camera button and caught the optics –
music of the kind he has provided for the ten-minute video loop in the show.
After all, a great deal of his professional work required him to compose a
soundtrack for his footage.
If the choice of music as a living furnished an escape from his art-school
upbringing, then flying, in turn, offered an escape from the harsh adversities of
the music business. “I couldn’t believe” says Peyton, “that people paid me to
fund my escapism”. Escape. Soaring. Imagining. Setting down. They comprise
the co-ordinates of a creative life, and of course a career. But they also
describe a spiritual or metaphysical arc. There is no greater destination or
metaphor for escape than sky and clouds. Where the spirit escapes when
freed from the body, from earthly entanglements. The ultimate release.
Peyton’s flying is never merely flying, nor his clouds merely clouds. In viewing
his visions we are passengers on a quest not simply away from the material
and diurnal but on a journey towards. Towards what we might ask because
the horizon forever recedes; clouds and sky and light are no material
destination despite their appearance. They melt away. They embody the
Peyton’s flights, therefore, can be seen as both inner and outer probes
towards the immaterial and eternal. His photos invite us to share his flight and
probe along with him. They are, in the end, a window onto all our unending
forays into the demi-urge, our universal questions about how the beyond may
harbor clues to the here and now. We are being told that a life of creativity like
Peyton’s, at its deepest if deeply pursued, is fundamentally a probe into the

nature of creation itself, birthed in the core of limitless boundaries but framed
for us to see.
Craig Peyton is a photographer, aerial cinematographer,
composer and lifelong aviator. Peyton’s cinematography has been
featured in many television shows and films including Island of Dr. Moreau,
Along Came Polly, The Punisher and Ace Ventura. In his musical career he
has worked with artists including  James Brown ,  Melba Moore ,  Nona
Hendryx ,  Levon Helm , and  Dan Hartman .

Melik Kaylan has worked as a journalist based mostly in New York for
twenty-five years. Among other places, he has been an editor at the Village
Voice, contributing editor at Spy magazine, associate editor at Connoisseur
magazine, Arts editor at, editor-at-large at ReganBooks.

Melik Kaylan. @melkaylan. Journalist. Culture and art. @WSJ. , foreign affairs column.

Read Melik’s the full article:

Craig Peyton Cloudman Article 2023

Reviews for the ‘Code Red’ doc film
Toronto Film Festival Winner, Environmental Short Film

Universal Cinema Film and TV Journal Link

Code Red: My Southwest Overflight – A Review:

‘Code Red: My Southwest Overflight’ is an aerial photography film directed by Craig Peyton showcased at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival of Cift (TIFFC) and has also been officially selected in several other film festivals, including a category for climate change.  His film became a semi-finalist in the Advertising Coverage category at TIFFC.  The film uses a 360-degree 5K VR wing camera to film himself flying his small plane to the four corners of the Southwest United States in Arizona and Utah.

Craig Peyton is a musician and transitioned himself to film production. He has contributed to many Hollywood film productions like “Along Came Polly” with his aerial photography.  Craig is a 6,000-hour rated pilot who founded “” so he can combine his passions for flying, music, and film production, which led to this project.  In addition, the idea of this particular film came about due to the challenges of flying in several extreme climate conditions of heat and fire in Southwest US has given him a reason to film a particular topic he can focus on and share his experience during his flight.

Craig’s inspiration came from flying his personal plane across New York to Los Angeles during the summer of 2021, where he witnessed drought, forest fires, and heat waves as high as 110°F that he discovered in several areas across the land.  His passion gave him a purpose to create some awareness of the ever-changing climate and voicing his thoughts and concerns by educating the viewers with what he can show from his 360-degree camera.

His approach to making this film relies on his flight with the 360-camera mounted on the wing of his plane.  He produced his own music and used it as the backdrop for the film as the viewers enjoy the aerial views of his flight.  His own commentary is sprinkled throughout the film to help describe what he is showing during his flight as well as sharing some heart-filled advice on what he has learned in his life.  Think of this as an extended artistic music video and documentary combined as one, sharing his observations of the world, experiences in his life, flight knowledge, and technical aspects of his aerial filmmaking.

All the commentary from Craig was clearly straight from the heart, whether or not if it was scripted.  His views are well articulated from his life experience to provide the authenticity and empathy he exudes from his adventures.  Some of the amazing sights he filmed included the Red Rocks and Lake Powell in Arizona and the Monument Valley, Navajo Tribal Park in Utah.

Craig’s philosophy to aerial photography is “that it is better to capture ugly than to capture beautiful”.  In a way it sounds like a complete opposite idea of what one may think about capturing aerial photography, it is likely an effective approach to filming.  This likely means that it gives him the opportunity to relax any rules and fundamentals of getting the “perfect shot” and just let the 360-degree camera do the work.  This allows raw unedited scenes to extend a little longer to increase the immersion of his flight experience.  And not that many aerial photographers have this sort of opportunity to do something as unique as what Craig had the fortunate chance to film. This also gave him the opportunity to showcase the neat “tiny planet” effects that the 360-camera is capable of doing.

If anyone was to do a film like this, Craig was the right person to take this initiative.  He has the flight experience and talent to pull off something that is captivating and different for viewers to enjoy and learn at the same time. His humble and wise voice-over commentary is a great blend to his filmmaking, which speaks volumes to how much of a passion project this was for him.  And more importantly, he did this with good intentions of creating awareness for climate change.  His closing statement for this documentary is that “it’s always the best time to do the right thing and protect our little blue planet. Thanks for being on board”. If you would like to see more of Craig’s work, be sure to visit his website

by: Trevor Brooks

 Dec 2016

The Craig Peyton Band returns with stunningly beautiful new album
(Published: December 10, 2016)

The Craig Peyton Band has awakened as if they were in suspended animation. After an absence of 34 years, the jazz fusion group simply picks up where they left off, delivering a breezy, consistently engaging sound on their reunion album, the aptly titled Homecoming.

For a band that played their last show in 1982, there’s no rust to be found; the group jams through 10 tracks with bold self-confidence and sharp instrumentation. To pigeonhole the band as fusion doesn’t acknowledge Homecoming‘s crossover appeal. Peyton and crew actually cross the borders between prog, art rock, and jazz, sometimes within the same track, impressively enough.

“Walk On By” is a lovely, enigmatic gem, actually recalling Roxy Music’s 1982 swan song Avalon. John Putnam’s atmospheric riffs are seemingly haunted by Phil Manzanera’s lush, shimmering feel, and it becomes more dreamy as the track progresses. Peyton’s electric vibes are enchanting, lighting up the melodies. The mood-spinning cut is what headphones are made for; it is pure bliss.

The title cut is equally pretty. Those dismissing jazz fusion as cold and detached will have a swift change in perspective upon hearing this slice of heaven. Again, Putnam’s guitar is luminescent with Peyton’s vibes capturing the whispers of stars. Marcelino Thompson’s throbbing bass beats like a human heart as the group is aiming for spiritual transcendence here. “It Could Be Like This” is also particularly relaxing and hypnotic.

The Craig Peyton Group Reunites After Several Decades With Exhilarating Fusion Release

The Craig Peyton Groupstarted out in the late ’70s, bound by their mutual love of Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, and Jimi Hendrix. After having Peyton play on his hit “Vertigo/Relight My Fire, ” Dan Hartman gave the band a full month’s access to his recording studio. The CPG amassed a devoted following up until their final show in 1979. That wasn’t truly the end, however, as the CPG released the eternally cool Electric Vibes album a year later. After decades of collective silence, the CPG rose from the ashes in 2014 and started to jam like old times.

The fittingly titled reunion album Homecoming has the CPG proudly building from where they left off in the late ’70s. It is an intoxicating mix of jazz, rock, and funk. Drummer/percussionist Ray Marchica, guitarist John Putnam, bassist Marcelino Thompson, and vibraphonist Peyton display no evidence of dust, no lingering cobwebs; the record is driven with youthful exuberance. Tracks “Impulse Control” showcases the much-missed magic of the seminal zeitgeist that is the ’70s. “Pensive,” on the other hand,  starts off with an ’80s cinematic swoon then segues into compelling jazz fusion à la Hiroshima. “Nebadon” is reminiscent of Steve Winwood, David Sylvian, and Pat Metheny. Echoes of Herbie Hancock’s Man-Childcould be heard on the album as well.

Without realizing it, the CPG have opened a wormhole back to the ’70s and ’80s — not just to their past but when jazz fusion was at its finest.


Check Us out on JAZZ EXPANSIONS RADIO DJ Major Brooks gives us a spin about 24 mins into his show…good program to know about for all jazz lovers! The full web address is here:


BY Michael Arens for SoulTrain Magazine, Germany Aug 2016:

In 1978, the debut album of Ray Marchica (drums and percussion), John Putnam (guitar), Marcelino Thompson (bass) and last but not least Electric Vibes Streichler Craig Peyton aka the Craig Peyton Group, the new business ran after Decades of isolation 2014 and again came together and finally in this wonderful new jazz fusion album between new Age, Latin, groove and soul structures called “Homecoming” culminates – gorgeous and a not entirely impartial.

See Craig Peyton on SoulTrain

Videos: Electric Vibes Demo Electric Vibes Demo

Flame On‘ video Featuring Roger Ball (AWB)

We’re off to a good start with ‘Jazz Mine‘, in Dublin. (#2) (also #10) From Patty Blee

“It’s no coincidence there’s an old propeller airplane on the cover of the new Craig Peyton Group album… This will take you on quite a journey, true old-school sound that still soars… the title track will leave you Breathless”_____________________From Kate J. Weiner: I wasn’t really sure what I was going to be hearing when I inserted the disc. But boy, what a pleasure. Each member of your group is a really good musician. I got very excited. You’re tight and your tunes are layered and always interesting to follow._______________________Craig………what a fantastic piece…and truly as soon as track 4, I  went to my CD player to see what it was!   Awww…this CD is my new music for I also bought your book from your site for kindle…

 Helene Jorgensen 

2 Replies to “Reviews and PR”

  1. Hi Mr. Peyton,

    Did you survive stage 4 esophageal cancer? My husband was stage 3 and suffered many hospital complications after surgery. Both he and his brother didn’t survive. His brother chose no treatment.

    1. Yes, it was a long haul. I entered an experimental program with very low chances, and was able to survive. Very sorry to hear about your loss, cancer is brutal. Thanks for reaching out

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