Hailing from Cincinnati, saxophonist Curtis Peagler was well rooted in the hard swing-oriented sound of the mid west, and played with some of the best in the business. Peagler paid his dues in the famous territory bands, and did a stint with blues singer Big Maybelle, before joining the Army in 1953.Upon his return to Cincinnati after his service tour in 1955, he enrolled in the Cincinnati Conservatory for a formal musical education.
From '59-60, he was recording for Prestige records, and it was within this period that Peagler did his now legendary Curtis Peagler and his Modern Jazz Disciples, “Disciples Blues” session. They went on to do another record “Right Down Front,” before the members moved on.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1962, Peagler did sideman, and session work until hooking up with Ray Charles in 1966. He remained with Charles until 1969.
He became a member of the Count Basie band from 1971 through 1978. After the Basie years, back on the coast, he started his own label Sea Pea Records, doing “For Basie and Duke,” as a leader. He also recorded “I'll Be Around,” as the Curtis Peagler 4, for Pablo Records. While at Pablo he did some fine work on albums by Harry “Sweets” Edison, Big Joe Turner, and the now famous dates where Oscar Peterson and Count Basie teamed up.
Throughout the '80's Peagler was a featured saxophonist with the esteemed Jeanie and Jimmy Cheatham and the Sweet Baby Blues Band, and can be heard on all their Concord records recorded during that time.