Primary Instrument: Guitar
PETER HAND - BIO
“The Peter Hand Big Band has my vote for the 2009 Grammy Awards best big band recording.” Frank-John Hadley – Downbeat columnist, author
“Guitarist Hand delivers a powerful Blues statement” Cadence
Guitarist, composer and arranger Peter Hand leads his own jazz combos and big band in New York and New England. His Savant Records CD, “The Peter Hand Big Band Featuring Houston Person – The Wizard of Jazz: A Tribute To Harold Arlen” was cited by by jazz critics and radio hosts as one of the best CDs of 2009. It was heard on jazz radio nationwide, staying on the JazzWeek chart of top 50 CDs for ten weeks. His big band also headlined at the 2010 “Jazz in July” series at Centenary Theatre in Hackettstown, NJ, for a sold-out concert.
Peter has performed with and written for many top artists and bands including Carmen Lundy, Jon Lucien, Claudio Roditi, Don Braden, Valery Ponomarev, Vincent Gardner, Lee Konitz, George Coleman, Mike Abene, Harvie S, Santi DiBriano, Victor Lewis, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, Charleston Jazz Orchestra and Central NY Jazz Orchestra. He also co- founded the Westchester Jazz Orchestra and served as artistic director, guitarist and composer-in- residence during the orchestra’s first season.
A New York City native, Peter began studying guitar in his early teens and was especially influenced by the blues guitar sounds of B.B. King and Albert King. While a student at Binghamton University he led his own blues bands before attending Berklee College of Music in Boston. There, he became immersed in the music of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Oliver Nelson, Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Charles Mingus, Wes Montgomery and Antonio Carlos Jobim, among many others. Peter’s interest in arranging for small groups blossomed into his majoring in jazz composition, and he studied big band arranging and composing with Herb Pomeroy and Ted Pease plus classical orchestration with John Bavicchi and Jeronimas Kacinskas, earning a Bachelor of Music degree in composition in 1977.
After graduating, Peter moved to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, where he lived for two years and gained valuable experience working as a solo guitarist and with many jazz, Latin and Caribbean bands. He performed with guitarist Attila Zoller and legendary saxophonists Frank Vicari and Eddie Shu. During this time Peter developed a strong interest in Latin and Brazilian music which has influenced many of his original compositions.
Returning to New York in the early 1980s, Peter became active as a sideman and arranger while also leading his quartet, quintet, ten-piece band, and most recently the Peter Hand Big Band. Some of his noteworthy credits include recording at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio on saxophonist Jeff Hackworth’s CD, How Little We Know (Big Bridge Music, 2006) and his guitar work was singled out in numerous favorable reviews. His composition “Brazilian Emerald was recorded by Houston Person on the CD, Thinking of You (HighNote Records, 2007), and in a further collaboration with Person, he was commissioned to write arrangements of Duke Ellington songs for Person’s appearance with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in 2008. Peter composes in a variety of styles and has written hundreds of original compositions and arrangements scored for large jazz orchestras, jazz combos, woodwind quintet, brass choir, string quartet and symphony orchestra.
In addition to big band work, Peter performs with his ten-piece band, quintet, quartet, trio and duo. Some highlights in 2010-2012 were concert tributes to Horace Silver at the Westport Arts Center (CT) and Wamsutta Club (New Bedford, MA), as well as performances at the New Britain Museum of American Art (CT), Hudson River Museum and Jazz Forum Arts Summer Concert Series (NY), and Greenwich Library (CT). These groups featured outstanding musicians such as Eddie Allen, Don Braden, James Weidman, Helio Alves, Lewis Porter, Harvie S, Santi Debriano, Steve Johns, Chip White and Richie Morales.
Peter Hand is also an experienced educator and has been teaching guitar, jazz improvisation, arranging and songwriting to private students for over twenty years. He has directed educational clinics at middle schools, high schools and regional jazz band competitions, and served as an adjudicator at the Williamstown Intercollegiate Jazz Festival at Williams College. He is currently an instructor at the Rye Arts Center (NY).