Pete was born into a musical family – his father was a drummer and his grandfather a saxophonist and bandleader – and Pete’s precocious rhythmic awareness was captured on film, hand drumming aged barely 12 months.
Courtesy of his Dad’s record collection, by age 5 Pete was already a devotee of Joe Morello, Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson. As a child Pete never missed an opportunity to play, going to work with his father and sitting in whenever possible.
Playing with adult musicians proved to be invaluable experience – when Pete joined the Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra aged 13 his playing had the maturity of an adult drummer. At 19 he became by far the youngest member of the All Stars Big Band – an 18-piece ensemble of top players in his home city of Birmingham – which subsequently led to a period in the drum chair of NYJO.
Big band playing led to small group gigs and Pete began playing with mainstream jazz musicians of an earlier generation, performing 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.
Pete’s work in London led to a virtually full time road gig with singer Elaine Delmar, which established him as a “name” throughout the UK. At this time Pete also 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 in London 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, soon establishing a strong presence in London and subsequently appearing all over the UK.
A debut album – Playing With Fire – helped to spread the word, resulting in winning 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 legendary Abbey Road Studio 2 later that same year, one of the first CDs in the world to be recorded in the new 5.1 surround sound SACD format.
Pete has taught jazz drums for many years at the renowned Drumtech Academy in London, and remains in demand for clinics, masterclasses and drum shows.
Most recently Pete, together with his Big Band, has been re-examining and interpreting Buddy Rich’s extensive repertoire.