Pete’s career began fairly inauspiciously at the age of 18 deep within the bowels of the Nat West bank in Marble Arch putting bank statements into envelopes. An unfortunate incident involving a picture of a lady and a horse being accidentally sent to the Convent of the Sacred Heart along with their financial records led to a re-think and a few days later, Pete had enrolled at the Royal London College Of Music. After a couple of years of hard study, ruthless self-denial and curry, Pete was out on the road with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, and during his time there, got to play all five saxophone parts, the solo flute part, the bass guitar, and on one rather messy occasion, the fourth trumpet. Having the unusual inclination to play modern jazz on the rather “old-fashioned” Clarinet led to several works for Clarinet and big band being commissioned during his stay, and established a tradition of Clarinet solos in NYJO which has plagued the saxophone section ever since.
After the apprenticeship had been served, fame and endless riches were only around the corner in the form of the John Simons Rhumba Showband on the QE2, and Pete’s orange frilly flamenco shirtsleeves and sassy sombrero became one of the familiar sights in the bars, clubs and clinics around the ports of the Caribbean Sea. At this time, Pete acquired the knack of bandleading, assembling ad-hoc ensembles on the ship for various passenger and crew functions. Serious playing work followed on the return to Blighty, as the award winning Sax Quartet “Itchy Fingers” had a job going on Alto Sax. Pete passed the audition, and toured Brazil, Venezuela, North Africa, Russia and Europe during his three year stay there, working with, amongst others, Dizzy Gillespie, John Scofield, Chick Corea and Supersax.
Due to an inspired bit of orchestral management by “a friend”, The bulk of Pete’s work for the next six years was in and around the West End theatres, where his versatility on many different woodwind instruments has stood him in good stead, most notably on the notorious Clarinet solo in the closing sequences of the hit show “Oliver”. During this time, Pete developed an interest in the Oboe, and after a rigorous six-hour a day practice schedule for several months, no calls at all came flooding in, and the oboe went forlornly back under the bed. Some time later, a call came to play a session doubling baritone sax and oboe. That session was for “Handbags and Gladrags” for the hit welsh beat combo “Stereophonics” and the single held a chart position in Europe for the next eighteen months, becoming the single best selling recording in the UK for 2002, a sales figure no doubt boosted by its use as the theme for the comedy series “The Office”.
A five-year stint playing and arranging for with Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, saw Pete working with Tom Jones, Norah Jones, Solomon Burke, Dr. John, Lulu, Georgie Fame and Lionel Richie, to name but a few, and producing arrangements for John Cale, Texas, Sir Paul McCartney, Candi Staton, Marti Pellow and Chrissy Hynde. Pete is also the first musician in Europe to use the Tubax commercially, on a Ringo Starr track, and much more recently with The Guillemots.
Over the last couple of years, Pete’s career has divided into three distinct streams- as an educator, working in master classes and as soloist with young musicians all over Britain, from the furthest point of West Wales to the orchestras at the Royal Academy, The Guildhall and the Royal College. In conjunction with this work, Pete has helped develop a new series of student woodwind instruments with a leading UK Manufacturer. As a jazz soloist, Pete has appeared with resident trios in the provinces, and has often been caught at Ronnie Scott’s, in London’s West End.
It is however, as a bandleader and orchestrator that Pete spends most of his time currently, and directing the Big Band at Ronnie Scott’s alongside his own projects. These include his award-winning repertory orchestra Echoes Of Ellington, whose 2018 album “The Jazz Planets” won the Times “Must Have Jazz CD Of The Year”. Further commissions have involved a re-imagining of Swan Lake in the style of Duke Ellington, and a transcription and re-orchestration of “The Days Of Future Passed” for the Moody Blues. In the course of this work, Pete has provided musicians and arrangements for Claire Sweeney, Jane MacDonald, Humphrey Lytlleton, Sir John Dankworth, the entire cast of Emmerdale (!) and a host of others.
In what is laughingly called his spare time, he makes Airfix planes in his garden shed.