[Editor's Note: The following interview is reprinted from George Colligan's blog, Jazztruth] I was recently in Athens, as part of my tour with Jack DeJohnette. Shortly after arriving, I'm sitting in my hotel room, and I get an unexpected call. Colligan!" Uh...yes?" And then I hear one of my obscure compositions, Reaction," being sung by a gravelly yet pitch perfect voice. It could only be one person.... Ralph? What are you doing here?" Ralph Peterson is one of the greatest jazz drummers there is, period. Originally from Pleasantville, New Jersey, and also originally a trumpeter (I ...read more
Drummer/composer/bandleader Ralph Peterson has got to be one of the hardest working men in jazz today. He seems to drop a new CD every few months, and the kicker is that the theme and product are markedly different than his previous efforts. In addition, he changes lineups like guys change socks. The band on ALIVE At Firehouse 12 Vol. 1--The Unity Project is not the same one on his previous outing, 2012's The Duality Perspective (Onyx). As a matter of fact, Peterson uses the same instrumental lineup that the late legendary organist Larry Young used on his classic Unity (Blue ...read more
Balance is often overlooked in music criticism, yet it's such an important aspect in music-making and life. Light doesn't exist without dark, bold only takes shape when placed next to bland and earthbound realities are only truly understood by those who also know how to take flight. Drummer/educator Ralph Peterson understands this better than most, and The Duality Perspective documents his balanced outlook for all to hear. This album is really two records in one, as Peterson splits the program between the latest incarnation of his two decade-old Fo'tet and his sizzling sextet, but the veteran maintains ...read more
To build the kind of staying power that keeps fans coming back for more, you've got to have consistency. In a jazz world where artists are expected to be self-reliant when it comes to promotion, dropping out for more than half a decade can have some serious implications. Emerging loudly as part of 1980s young lion supergroup Out of the Blue, drummer Ralph Peterson has since built a significant discography with his instrumentally intriguing Fo'Tet, last heard on Fo'Tet Augmented (Criss Cross, 2004), as well as in more conventional contexts like the quintet of new young lions on Tests of ...read more
Back in the early '90s, drummer Ralph Peterson was hot off an introductory phase that included a part played in the hard bop collective Out of the Blue. Formed by the powers that be at Blue Note upon the resurrection of the iconic label back in 1985, the ensemble saw several youngsters go on to bigger and greener pastures, and for Peterson this would include signing with Blue Note as a solo artist in his own right.
The drummer made several consistently fine recordings during his tenure with the label; however, it would be the albums documenting a group called ...read more
While drummer Ralph Peterson has forged a consistently strong body of work, it is with his Fo'Tet that he has made his most cogent statement over the past fifteen years. And while more recent Fo'Tet incarnations, including first Steve Wilson and then Ralph Bowen on soprano saxophone, have been successful at maintaining the delicate yet powerful sonority resulting from the combination of a high-end horn and Bryan Carrott's deft vibraphone work, it was when Don Byron held down the reed chair on clarinet and bass clarinet that the group was at its most distinctive. The combination of vibes, clarinet, bass ...read more
Ralph Peterson’s newest effort once again casts the drummer in the role of the leader of a contemporary jazz quintet in the tradition of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Blakey himself recognized Peterson’s potential early in the young drummer’s career, back when he was a sideman with the Terence Blanchard-Donald Harrison Quintet, and encouraged him to become a bandleader. Peterson has settled into the position nicely, confirming Blakey’s famous faculty for finding future leaders, and on the third disc with this latest edition of his group, featuring trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, saxophonist Jimmy Greene, pianist Orrin Evans and bassist Eric ...read more
Not for nothing does Criss Cross have a reputation for being the present day equivalent of Blue Note Records during its heyday in the '50s and '60s. A blindfolded listener could easily be forgiven for mistaking a 2003 Criss Cross album for the work of Hank Mobley, Jimmy Smith, or Grant Green. That may sound worse than it is. Despite its fairly predictable style (late '50s hard bop and soul jazz), the fact is that the label is home to a number of truly talented musicians. Almost to a man, its stable of artists is made up of talented pros, ...read more
Few jazz drummers in the history of the music have carved a niche as leaders. Obviously, Art Blakey set the precedent with the many different ensembles that he fostered over the years. For a brief period in the ‘80s, it was Tony Williams who broke new ground not only in terms of the guidance he provided to his ensemble, but also the strides he made as a gifted composer who was able to craft his musical ideas with specific musicians in mind. Although his first efforts ran somewhat concurrent with Williams’ advances, drummer Ralph Peterson has very much come into ...read more
Just on the verge of marking his 40th year on the planet, drummer Ralph Peterson is not old enough to be considered an elder statesmen, but certainly has moved passed the period usually defined with being a young lion. He’s had his ups and downs and seems to be currently on a new path towards documenting his own projects. It’s a shame that his Blue Note tenure was so short lived and that all of his records for that label are currently out of print because sets such as Volition served as a watermark for the kind of Nuevo hard ...read more
The music of Thelonious Monk has influenced the entire spectrum of modern jazz. Tributes to Monk's music have been recorded by a wide variety of artists, from vocalist Carmen McRae to saxophonist Steve Lacy and musical auteur Hal Wilner. The rather unique line-up of the Ralph Peterson Fo'tet (drums/sax/vibraphone/bass) is refreshing on this program of Monk and Monk-inspired material.
The Fo'tet Plays Monk (Ralph Peterson, drums; Belden Bullock, bass; Bryan Carrott, vibraphone; Steve Wilson, soprano sax) brings an adventurous creativity to a set of well-chosen tunes. Ralph Peterson is a fiery leader on drums and his arrangements look at the ...read more
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