Pete Chavez was born in Greeley, Colorado and raised in Denver, Colorado where he studied clarinet with Dr. William Gower, editor of the Rubank Method books. In 1955, at 13 years of age, he moved to Los Angeles where he played oboe with the Highland Park Symphony Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Junior Philharmonic Orchestra during his high school years. His early jazz influences included trumpeter Little Benny Harris, bassist George Morrow, and tenor saxophone giant Lin Halliday.
In the 1960s he moved to New Orleans where he became a fixture on the local jazz scene jamming all night most nights. Then he toured the east coast with the “Woody Forrest Revue” ending up in Miami and where he landed a gig at the Knight Beat Club as sideman to a roster of soul stars. He toured with the legendary Jackie Wilson and Jackie “Moms” Mabley before moving back to Denver around 1969. In Denver, he worked with Cedar Walton and “Big” John Patton, with whom he formed a lasting and close friendship.
In 1973, Chavez moved to Boston where he played with the some of the Brazilian musicians on the scene, including trumpeter Claudio Roditi, Alyrio Lima (Weather Report), and Raoul DeSousa (Brazil ’66). Pete earned a good measure of notoriety with his own bands which included James Williams, Boots Maleson, and John Scofield, to name a few.
He then moved to New York City to work with Saheb Sarbib’s Multinational Big Band. He recorded a CD with Sarbib featuring Kirk Litesy, Rashied Ali and Joe Ford. He worked and toured in Dom Um Romao’s “Hotmosphere”. He recorded Blue Planet Man with John Patton, Eddie Gladden, Bill Saxton, John Zorn, and Ed Cherry. While in New York City, Chavez performed with Archie Shep, John Hicks, Jaco Pastorius, Marcus Miller, Cameron Brown, Woody Shaw, and Mike Stern, among others.