Tommy Peltier's Musical Life
Born in New Orleans many years ago, Tommy started playing trumpet at the age of 10. At the age of 13, he moved to Hollywood, Ca. with his mother. After one year of college, was drafted into the U.S. Navy. He spent two years playing in the Navy Band where he honed his arranging and playing skills.
After the Service he hooked up with Bill Plummer, Charles and Joann Brackeen and Don Joham. Howard Rumsey, manager of the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, like the band and would let them seat-in. After Charles and Joann moved to New York, Tommy formed his own band, The Jazz Crops. They were a regular at the Lighthouse during the 1960’s. The group’s personnel were Bill Plummer on bass, Freddy Rodriguez on reeds & flute, Lynn Blessing on vibes, Maurice Miller on drums and Tommy on cornet and composer of the group’s material.
Two albums are currently available entitled “Tommy Peltier’s Jazz Corps, -- Live at the Lighthouse 1963-67 vol. 1 and vol. 2” by Cadence Jazz Records. The group made an album in 1966 for Pacific Jazz in entitled “The Jazz Corps under the direction of Tommy Peltier featuring Roland Kirk” was reissued on CD by Capitol Records in 1994. “….a captivating LP ….for all of its adventurousness, the music is accessible, timeless and fresh.” According to Doug Ramsey of The Jazz Times, March/95.
In 1970 Tommy was forced to put down his horn due to an injury and had to reinvent himself. Inspired by singer/songwriter Judee Sill, he took to singing, playing guitar and writing lyrics to his songs. Tommy and Judee would form a close friendship that would last throughout her life. Later on Judee would play in a number of bands Tommy put together. Recordings of the band Holy Cow and other recording with Judee will be coming out for the first time in July, 2005. The CD with quick-time video will be released by Black Beauty/Runt Records and will be titled “Tommy Peltier featuring Judee Sill” --- “Chariot of Astral Light.”
In 1980 Tommy met producer Jay Lewis, who won a Grammy for Gary Wright’s “Dreamweaver” and produced The Players “Baby Come Back” to mention a few. He took Tommy into the studio, and over the next twenty years Jay, later known as James Donnellan, would record many of Tommy’s best works. During that time Tommy was working his band “Jump City” around Southern California.
During the late 80’s Tommy scored a couple of short films, one of which, Pat Blessing’s “Caption Hydro, ” won a Silver Emmy Award. The other film was Shirley Clark’s “I Fed the Cat, ” for AFI.
Plastic Theatre Art Band made its debut in 1990 with seven concerts in collaboration with the renowned Rudy Perez Performance Ensemble. Los Angeles Times dance critic Lewis Segal wrote, “Like Tommy Peltier’s score, Perez’s choreography for – One + 2 Plus 1 = Mischif – has a weighty undercurrent that invites us to examine the pop culture values being depicted. It’s easy to fall for the piece’s sexual salesmanship.” This was an all electronic group that can be heard on the CD “March of the Nematodes.”
Tommy went on to collaborate with many other dancers including Naomi Goldberg’s Los Angeles Modern Dance and Ballet Company. Once again he regrouped the band using vocalist Lynn Fanelli (Delaney & Bonnie, Robbie Krieger), bassist Louie Spears (Eddie Harris, James Moody, Oliver Nelson) and percussionist Timm Boatman (Leonard Bernstein, Andre Previn, Hubert Laws). This version of Plastic Theatre went on to record an album, “live at Luna Park, ” and was released by Herman’s Records out of Germany. The album got great reviews including this from Rolling Stone, 1996 – “a global circus—cloudy dream poetry fusing perfectly with equally lofty music.” Rolling Stone also put one of the tracks on its compilation CD entitled New Voices vol.4.
In 1999 Tommy hooked up once again with his old pal Bill Plummer (Jazz Corps) to do an album entitled “The Frog’s Breath Saloon, ” out on Plastic Echo Records.
In 2001 Tommy recorded “The Bug Ballet Suite” which can be found with some of his other bands on a compilation CD entitled “March of the Nematodes, ” which can be found on Plastic Echo Records.
Tommy is currently putting together another band and will be performing again soon.
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