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Pete Cater




"A gifted and versatile drummer, at home in any context"

(Rough Guide to Jazz)





Pete Cater was born with a drumstick in each hand. His father was a drummer, and his grandfather a saxophonist and bandleader. Pete’s precocious rhythmic awareness was apparent from the outset. Movie footage exists of him hand drumming aged barely 12 months and the innate talent cannot be missed. His musical tastes matured similarly early, and courtesy of his Dad’s record collection he was, by age 5, already a devotee of Joe Morello, Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson. The following year it was a television appearance by Rich on the UK children’s magazine programme "Magpie" that proved to be the turning point in the young drummer’s evolution.

"Up until then I had heard all this drumming on records, but the visual impact of what Buddy was doing was incredibly powerful. I remember that as soon as the show was over, I ran upstairs and tried to copy what I had just witnessed. That was it. The bar was set and I knew what I had to aspire to from that moment".

Throughout these early years Pete never missed an opportunity to play. At this point he was going to work with his father and sitting in whenever possible. Playing with adult musicians proved to be invaluable experience, so that when Pete joined the Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra aged 13 his playing had the maturity of an adult drummer (http://www.youtube.com/v/R3vFtBUtXNI), by 18 his prowess on the instrument was a clear indicator of what the future would hold (http://www.youtube.com/v/hCd1V7JFXlc) and at 19 he became by far the youngest member of the All Stars Big Band, an 18 piece made up of top players in his home city of Birmingham, England. The same year the first incarnation of the Pete Cater Big Band made its debut

"Looking back on that old footage more than 25 years later is very revealing. Obviously I was a ‘work in progress’ at that point (and still am) but there’s musicality and maturity that I’m actually quite proud of. I don’t sound like a kid in any of it. I remember a jazz journalist at the time describing me as ‘splendidly assured’ which I think sums it up pretty well".

Big band playing led to small groups and Pete began playing with mainstream jazz musicians of an earlier generation. During this period he got to perform with USA legends including Benny Carter, Barney Kessell, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Nat Pierce, Teddy Edwards, and

many key figures from the UK, including Ronnie Scott, Dick Morrissey, Humphrey Lyttelton and John Dankworth.

Unfortunately this being the 1980s and the era of synth pop and electric drums, there was no tangible career path for a young jazz/swing/big band drummer in Pete’s hometown so he spent the next few years pursuing a nomadic existence working on cruise ships, resorts, theatres and one-night-stands. Jazz had to take second place for the time being.

In 1992, back in Birmingham briefly, Pete had occasion to play with Cuban trumpet virtuoso Arturo Sandoval. So impressed was Sandoval that he offered Pete dates in Europe later that year doing concerts paying homage to Clifford Brown.

"We played Leverkusen, Germany one day. Steve Smith was on before us, and Billy Cobham immediately afterwards. Luckily I don’t get scared easily".

On his return from Europe Pete took what would turn out to be the most important gamble of his career to date, got off the road and settled in London. Once again jazz took a back seat and Pete rapidly became in demand across a broad spectrum of live and studio work.

"I was making good money and establishing myself in London, but music wasn’t much fun at that time".

As time passed Pete began to work his way in to the London jazz scene. He took a virtually full time road gig with singer Elaine Delmar which established him as a "name" throughout the UK, and his stunning, virtuoso solos consistently brought the house down. Also at this time Pete toured with the legendary Charlie Byrd and the Buddy DeFranco/Terry Gibbs quintet.

By now Pete had played with just about every top big band on the London circuit and had strong opinions about repertoire and how big band music should be interpreted. The result of his vision was a gathering of 16 of the most outstanding young musicians in Great Britain at the time, and the Pete Cater Big Band made its debut on April 30th 1995. The band soon established a strong presence on the London jazz scene and began appearing all over the UK on the festival circuit.




In 1997 Pete had to put the big band on hold for an extended tour of Japan with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, but immediately on his return to England work was concluded on the debut album "Playing With Fire" which helped to spread the word beyond UK shores and resulted in Pete being a shoo-in for Big Band of the Year in the British Jazz Awards 2000, and Critic’s Choice the following year.

This success brought Pete to the attention of Vocalion records, and the follow up album "Upswing" was recorded at the home of the Beatles, the legendary Abbey road studio 2 later that same year.

This was also one of the first CDs in the world to be recorded in the new 5.1 surround sound SACD format developed by Sony and Philips. The band has remained a popular attraction at UK jazz festivals ever since and its most recent album "The Right Time" (Vocalion) was released in 2006.

In 2002 Pete was elevated to the ranks of British jazz royalty when he was first choice to replace the late Ronnie Verrell (‘Animal’ from the Muppet Show) in the Best of British Jazz, an all-star sextet under the leadership of trombonist Don Lusher. Pete also appeared regularly with Don Lusher’s big band until Lusher passed away in 2006.

"Don was the epitome of what a professional musician should be, not just as a player but also as a man. I’ve never worked for anyone who treated the people around him with so much respect, and the fact that we became so close in his final years was really quite an honour".

Also during this period Pete worked with electronica pioneer and big band tyro Matthew Herbert on the crossover album "Goodbye Swingtime", which resulted in live performances all over the world, from the Shanghai Jazz Festival to the Hollywood Bowl. Pete taught jazz drums for many years at the renowned Drumtech academy in London, and remains in demand for clinics, masterclasses and drum shows. Of recent times he has appeared at the National Drum Fair, The Rhythm Course organized by the International Drum Foundation, and a one-off concert to mark Buddy Rich’s 90th birthday entitled "The World’s Greatest Drummer" which also featured appearances from Ian Paice, Steve White and Ian Palmer amongst others.

Most recently Pete has appeared in a number of concerts with the big band where the emphasis has been on re-examining the Buddy Rich repertoire, and the October 2007 London concert ‘The Man From Planet Jazz’ was an enormous success. (http://www.youtube.com/v/IlwXspyNVrc).

Pete’s next album although not a ‘tribute album’ as such, will be honouring the influence of Buddy’s fantastic musical legacy.



Pete Cater continues to care passionately that big band music is sustainable and properly represented in the ever more diverse contemporary music scene. Not for him collaborations with ersatz crooners or bizarre fusions of diametrically opposed and often incompatible styles,

"Like trying to play tennis with a golf club, it makes about as much sense sometimes. What I’m about is looking at what made big band music great in the first place, hanging on to those core values and placing them in a relevant and up-to-date context".

Now, thanks to the influence of the internet, Pete is gathering considerable momentum in territories the band has yet to visit, in particular the USA and Japan, a near perfect juxtaposition of modern technology being utilized to promote a truly classic musical genre.

Internet links:







Selected discography:

Pete Cater Big Band, "The Right Time" (Vocalion)

Pete Cater Big Band, "Upswing" (Vocalion)

Pete Cater Big Band, "Playing With Fire" (Jazzizit)

Matthew Herbert, "Goodbye Swingtime" (Accidental)

Spike Robinson "The CTS Session" (Hep)

Sheena Davies, "Smile" (Jazzizit)

The Best of British Jazz, "Abbey Road Sessions" (Vocalion)





From outside the UK call (+44) 207 924 4778

Within the UK 0207 924 4778 or 07831 419958


Copyright Pete Cater 2008










The unforgettable music made famous by the legendary

Buddy Rich (1917-1987)


Superbly re-created by The Pete Cater Big Band

September 2007 marked the ninetieth anniversary of the birth of one of the true giants of jazz: drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich.

To celebrate, award-winning British drummer Pete Cater played a special one-off concert at Cadogan Hall, London. Such was the success of this event that Pete and his big band will be doing a limited number of special appearances commemorating the master drummer. The concerts will feature virtually all the best-remembered and most frequently requested items from Rich’s repertoire, and is a rare opportunity to hear the music played live, exactly as it was intended to sound.

Expect to hear "West Side Story", "Love for Sale", "Norwegian Wood" and much more of the unforgettable music made famous by arguably the most successful big band of the 60s, 70s and 80s. This could easily be said to be the ultimate challenge for any drummer, but Pete Cater is more than up to the task.

Rich was recognized as a virtuoso from a very early age and became a lauded product of the swing era; that unique phase in 20th century popular music where virtuosity and popularity went side by side in a manner not seen before or since.

Initially influenced by the founding fathers of swing drumming, Gene Krupa, Chick Webb, Jo Jones and Sid Catlett, Rich took key elements of all of these players and emerged as possibly the most outstanding drummer of the big band era.

Long after the period had become just a memory, Rich re-invigorated his career when, in 1966; a time when big bands had become musical dinosaurs, he formed the band for which he is best remembered and with which he, single handedly, introduced the sound to a whole new generation. With an exciting band of talented young musicians, he shunned nostalgia and pastiche and played music that was up to date and of its time. Coupled with his own breathtaking virtuosity at the kit, the music of Buddy Rich continued to enhance the genre of big band jazz worldwide, throughout the 1960s and 70s until his untimely death in 1987.

British drummer Pete Cater first took to the stage as leader of his own big band while still a teenager. He has had his current band since 1995, appearing throughout the UK and Europe. The band can be heard on three internationally acclaimed CDs, all of which have featured new music that has combined the best of the core values of big bands whilst presenting a forward looking approach to the music.

The Pete Cater band was voted ‘big band of the year’ in 2000 and this latest challenge to present the music of Buddy Rich is a reflection of Pete’s fondness for and knowledge of Rich’s music, as well as his homage to the most formative influence of his career.



Further Information: Telephone 020 7924 4778 or 07831 419958

Email: petecaterdrums@gmail.com












London: It’s usually the moment during a gig when whole swathes of the audience make for the bar and the technical crew use it as an excuse to get rid of any surplus pyrotechnics. Meanwhile on stage there remains one lonely and hapless figure, shirt off, matted hair flying, unkempt beard sodden with sweat, as he contemplates stretching his several weeks of musical training to fill the next ten minutes. Yes, it’s the "drum solo", and if the description above sounds familiar it’s not hard to understand why.

Contrast this then with the urbane, Armani clad figure of Pete Cater, undoubtedly one of the UK’s greatest jazz drummers, who is experiencing huge interest in his latest project. In October this year Pete, together with his 15-piece big band will be recreating the work of drum legend Buddy Rich. 

September 2007 marked the ninetieth anniversary of the birth of one of the true giants of jazz. Drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich was a product of the swing era, that unique phase in 20th century popular music where virtuosity and popularity went side by side in a manner not seen before or since. Pete Cater’s tribute concert at that time proved such a success that he returns to Cadogan Hall with a further selection of the iconic music from Buddy Rich’s repertoire.

Pete Cater first took to the stage as leader of his own big band whilst still a teenager. He has had his current band since 1995. This group has appeared all over the UK and beyond and has released three internationally acclaimed CDs, all of which have featured new music that has combined the best of the core values of big bands whilst keeping an eye in a forward direction. Furthermore the band was voted "big band of the year" in 2000. Now, however, he is stepping up to the plate to take on what is arguably the greatest challenge any drummer could undertake. It is an unusual step for Pete Cater and his big band to be performing music from outside their own repertoire and it is testament to his fondness for and knowledge of Rich’s music, as well as acknowledging Buddy Rich as being a key formative influence, that he has chosen to make a very limited number of special appearances commemorating the master drummer who passed away in 1987.

The concert will contain virtually all the best-remembered and most frequently requested items from Rich’s repertoire, and is a rare opportunity to hear this repertoire played live exactly as it was intended to sound, and to see a normally sane drummer take his life in his hands!

www.petecaterbigband.com www.myspace.com/petecater

Tel: 020 7924 4778/ 07831 419958