Born: August 4, 1965 Primary Instrument: Saxophone
Saxophonist/composer Peter Fraize is a distinct voice in the Washington, DC jazz community. Born in 1965 in Somerville, New Jersey, Peter was raised in northern Virginia where he took up the saxophone at age nine. At sixteen he formed the group Moment's Notice, with whom he played his first professional jobs in and around the northern Virginia area. The group was featured at the 1982 International Children's Festival at Wolf Trap. After graduating high school in 1983, Peter went on to attend the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, studying classical saxophone performance with Ken Radnofsky and playing in the Conservatory Big Band under the direction of bassist Miroslav Vitous. In 1985 he traveled to The Netherlands to study with noted Dutch saxophonist Leo van Oostrom at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, where he earned his Artist's Diploma in 1989. While in Holland he also studied with Ruud Brink, John Ruocco, and the late tenor legend Sal Nistico. He performed with a wide variety of bands including the avant-garde Waterland Ensemble, the Brazilian group Tanga, and his own quartet, appearing at such places as Amsterdam's Bimhuis, the North Sea Jazz festival, the Heineken and Gouda Jazz Festivals, and numerous other jazz venues throughout Holland, Belgium, and Germany. He was also an original member of the Dutch freebop quintet Scapes, first prize winners at the 1989 Middelzee Jazz Festival.
Returning to the DC area in 1989, Peter founded the jazz/rock group Stickman, which released its eponymous CD in in 1995. Stickman enjoyed a large local following and was featured on the main stage at Pittsburgh's Mellon Jazz Festival in 1997. In 1996 he formed the Peter Fraize Quintet, releasing the live recording You St. that same year on Union Records, an independent label he co-founded. You St. received critical acclaim in publications such as Jazz Times, Cadence, and the Washington Post. He followed up with Third Attention (1998), which showcased his working trio with whom he hosted weekly jam sessions at area nightclubs from 1994 to 2002. In 1999 he was awarded a Washington Area Music Award (Wammie) for best contemporary jazz group. Peter has twice collaborated with Italian avant-garde trombonist Giancarlo Schiaffini, documented on the CD releases Deconstruction (2000, Pentaflowers) and Post- Deconstruction (2002, Cadence Jazz Records). In the summer of 2008 he was invited to Lima, Peru to preform a series of concerts at the Jazz Zone and Satchmo clubs with some of that country's finest musicians. The results can be heard on the forthcoming Live In Lima (2009, Union Records). His current CD release is Organic Matter (2009, Union), a collection of eight of his original compositions featuring jazz organ master Greg Hatza. Over the years he has appeared in virtually all of the DC area's notable music venues including the One Step Down, Blues Alley, Twins, the Kennedy Center, Constitution Hall, the Birchmere, and the 9:30 Club.
Over the past two decades, Peter has been involved with a wide variety of groups, projects, and collaborations. In 1995 he joined an original rock band, the Emptys, which toured extensively throughout the east coast and midwest, and with whom he has recorded three CDs. Since 1997, he has been a member of the Greg Hatza Organization, which in 1999 performed for three weeks at the Blue Note in Fukuoka, Japan. He has recorded with the Organization on To A New Place (2001, I Ching). He is also a member of the Larry Brown Quintet and is featured on the recordings The Long Goodbye (2002, Lush Life Records) and Hard Bop Cafe (2006, Lush Life), winner of the 2007 Wammie for best jazz recording. Peter has performed and recorded with many other area artists including jazz vocalist Sharon Clark, the Brazilian group Origem, the New Orleans inspired A La Carte Brass and Percussion, and D.C. punk rock legends the Holy Rollers. He has been a frequent collaborator with local choreographers Nancy Havlik and Jane Franklin, performing multimedia works featuring spoken word, film, and electronics, with improvised music and dance. For his work with Ms. Franklin, he was nominated for a DC Metro Area Dance Award in original sound design in 2001 and 2002. He has served as music curator for the DC International Improv Festival, out of which grew the free improvising trio Pierce, Putter, and Rumble.
In addition to his varied performing and recording projects, Peter has been on faculty at the George Washington University since 1994, where he teaches saxophone, Jazz Performance Techniques and Jazz Theory. He also directs the Advanced Jazz Combo and co-leads the GWU Latin Band. Since 1998 he has served as Director of Jazz Studies.
Peter lives in Washington, DC with his wife Jessica and their two sons Leo and Owen.
The players' concise solos don't wear out their welcome... and their lines are sharp without being overbearing. This buoyant record is equally suitable for solo listening, propping up a party, or shaking your booty. - Mark Osteen, Baltimore jazz Alliance (review of Organic Matter)
Fraize's unpretentious, strong-toned, fluid sound exudes traces of prime Sonny Rollins, taken to a slightly freer zone. Peter Fraize is a tenor saxophonist to watch. - Steven Loewy, Cadence Magazine (review of Third Attention)
[Fraize] weilds his tenor with considerable authority, whether casually playing over a swing pulse or punctuating the noirish Union Blues with an urgent cry. - Mike Joyce, the Washington Post (review of Third Attention)
...the music is consistently fresh and inspired by Fraize's colorful writing and the improvisatory bent he shares with his bandmates... - Mike Joyce, Jazz Times (review of You St.)
As a soloist... displaying the fire of John Coltrane. You St. is filled with honest music and solid playing. The band pushes at its material, not content with cliches or pat readings of the themes. - Richard Kamins, Cadence Magazine (review of You St.)
Fraize plays supremely lyrical lines, never boarding the showboat and never giving in to full-bellied dissonance. Fraize's burry sound calls up the history of the tenor while welcoming the present. - Christopher Porter, Washington City Paper
Unselfconsciously as down-home as Ornette Coleman's Folk Tale, [Plain Folk] easily illustrates its title. Homespun as all get out when playing unaccompanied, Fraize begins running the changes at the top of his horn's range then moves into aviary scream territory. Post-Deconstruction demonstrates all the good that can come out of a structured jam session... - Ken Waxman, jazzweekly.com (review of Post- Deconstruction)