Peter Apfelbaum

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Peter Apfelbaum
Peter Apfelbaum.JPG
Peter Apfelbaum live with the Steven Bernstein "Diaspora Suite" in Saalfelden, 2009 (photo by Davide Leonardi)
Background information
InstrumentsTenor saxophone, piano, keyboards, drums, percussion

Peter Apfelbaum (born August 21, 1960) is an American avant-garde jazz pianist, tenor saxophonist, drummer and composer born in Berkeley, California.[1] He first emerged on the jazz scene in the late 1970s, performing with Carla Bley from 1978–1982 and touring with Warren Smith and Karl Berger. Around this time Apfelbaum also studied and worked with musicians involved with the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, New York. He graduated from Berkeley High School in 1978 in a class that included jazz pianist Benny Green.

Apfelbaum has made an impact on the avant-garde jazz and world music scene since the late 1970s and 1980s. He is a well known multi-instrumentalist and composer. His three main instruments are tenor saxophone, piano, and drums, but he has recorded and performed with a diverse array of percussion, wind, and other instruments. He has composed suites for various artists (including Don Cherry) as well as his 17-piece group The Hieroglyphics Ensemble. In 1990 Apfelbaum toured and recorded with Cherry in the group Multikulti, playing both piano and saxophone. In the early 1990s, Apfelbaum opened shows for The Grateful Dead with The Hieroglyphics Ensemble. Apfelbaum formed The Hieroglyphics Ensemble with jazz musicians from the San Francisco Bay Area, including Jeff Cressman, Will Bernard, Norbert Stachel, Jessica Jones, Tony Jones, Peck Almond, Dezon Claiborne, Josh Jones, Robert Huffman, Jai Uttal, and many others. In 1991 his album Signs of Life, recorded with The Hieroglyphics Ensemble, went to No. 14 on Billboard's "top contemporary jazz albums.[2] The latest incarnation of this group, The New York Hieroglyphics, released "It Is Written" in 2005, featuring members from the original group and New York-based musicians such as Patrice Blanchard, Dafnis Prieto, Josh Roseman, and Abdoulaye Diabate. His compositions and performances have influenced many artists active in the contemporary jazz fusion scene. His work recombines and synthesizes varieties of world music (i.e. various non-Western diasporic musical traditions) with experimental jazz idioms.[3] Of how his music came into being, Apfelbaum writes: "My vocabulary reflects the fact that I started life as a drummer, was trained in jazz theory, blues and gospel music as a pre-teenager, became absorbed in African and Latin music as a teenager, listened to a lot of contemporary classical music, worked in R&B, reggae, blues, Latin, African, jazz, funk, Middle Eastern and Indian bands and, for as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by how sounds can be fitted together." Peter's latest musical pursuits include collaborating with DJ Wyllys (Mr. 3,000), a famous Nu Disco pioneer with a penchant for deep cutz & darkness. [4]

Peter Apfelbaum and Paul Shapiro (photo by Sheldon Levy)


As leader[edit]

  • Signs Of Life (Polygram, 1991)
  • Jodoji Brightness (Polygram, 1992)
  • Luminous Charms (Gramavision, 1996)
  • It Is Written (ACT, 2005)

As sideman[edit]

With Cyro Baptista

With Phish

With Don Cherry

With Trey Anastasio


  1. ^ Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-141-00646-8.
  2. ^ AllMusic
  3. ^ Down Beat Profile Archived 2006-11-18 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^