Long Beach Press-Telegram (CA)

13-year-old already has his life in tune

September 12, 2009
Section: NEWS
Edition: MAIN
Page: 2A
Caption: Carlos Delgado For the Press-Telegram

Thirteen-year-old Peter Carroll, right, plays with his father, Michael, every Wednesday at Michael's on Naples Ristorante in Long Beach. Michael Carroll, a longtime musician, calls his home-schooled son "very advanced for his age."

LONG BEACH - With a fedora pulled to his brow and a saxophone pressed to his lips, Peter Carroll blows big notes from still-growing lungs.

At 13, he already has a regular paying gig - 6 to

9 p.m. Wednesdays - playing jazz with his father, Michael Carroll, at Michael's on Naples Ristorante.

"He's phenomenal," Michael Carroll, who is not the Michael in the restaurant's name, says of his son. "He's very advanced for his age."

That may sound like parental pride talking, but the elder Carroll knows his stuff after a lifetime of studying, composing, teaching and performing music.

Peter Carroll started taking guitar lessons from his dad at age 8.

"I was with my dad playing the guitar, and I asked him to show me a couple of things," he recalls. "I liked it and kept playing and playing."

The lessons with dad and other teachers continued. He picked up the sax - he plays soprano, alto and bass models - at age 10. Mandolin and violin are also in his repertoire.

Carroll, who is home-

schooled in Upland, is busker or street performer in nearby Claremont.

The father and son musicians got the Long Beach gig after a musician friend asked them to fill in at Michael's.

Restaurant owner Michael Dene liked what he heard and started bringing the duo back.

"It enhanced the place," Dene says. "It became exciting because upstairs is like a separate restaurant."

Michael's offers traditional upscale dining downstairs and a more relaxed atmosphere, with a bar, benches and dining tables on the rooftop above Second Street.

The younger Carroll enjoys playing in myriad musical genres but his favorite is straight-ahead jazz, bebop and other forms made famous by his late heroes, Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong. He is also enamored with the unforgettable songbooks of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin.

The teen also plays classical music as well and listens to popular music.

"I am a really huge Beatles fan, actually," he says.

It must run in the family.

"I was his age when the Beatles came to America," Michael Carroll, 58, adds. "I was 13."

With all due respect to John, Paul, George and Ringo, Dad's tastes run more along the likes of Bach, Brahms, Mozart and Schubert, but he can play all over the field. Not long ago he performed Irish jigs at the Auld Dubliner on the Pike at Rainbow Harbor and also jams with big bands.

Though the elder Carroll has always loved and taught music, his day job is in engineering along the so-called "Aerospace Alley" in El Segundo. He knows Long Beach well as he has been on assignments at Boeing on behalf of his employer, Science Applications International Corp.

His son, who recently returned from the prestigious Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society's annual youth camp, would like a college education and then, if possible, a career in music.

"If I can't make it as a professional, I would just teach lessons for a living," he says.

john.canalis@presstelegram.com, 562-499-1273