Ralph Peterson, Jr.
Four of Peterson's uncles and his grandfather were all drummers, and Peterson himself began on percussion at age three. He was raised in Pleasantville, where he played trumpet at Pleasantville High School and worked locally in funk groups. He applied to Livingston College, Rutgers, for drums but failed the percussion entrance exam, and enrolled as a trumpeter instead, graduating in 1984. In 1983, he joined Art Blakey's Jazz messengers as the second drummer, playing with him for several years. He worked with Terence Blanchard and Donald Harrison in 1984, and with Walter Davis (1985, 1989), Tom Harrell (1985), Out of the Blue (1985–88), Branford Marsalis (1986), David Murray, Craig Harris (1987), James Spaulding (1988), Roy Hargrove (1989), Jon Faddis (1989), Dewey Redman and Mark Helias (1989), and Wynton Marsalis (with the Count Basie ghost band).
In the 1990s, Peterson played as a sideman with Jack Walrath, Craig Handy, Charles Lloyd, Kip Hanrahan (1992), Bheki Mseleku, Courtney Pine, Steve Coleman, George Colligan, Stanley Cowell, Mark Shim, and Betty Carter. He began recording as a leader around 1988, with a quintet V, or Volition, with Terence Blanchard, Steve Wilson, Geri Allen, and Phil Bowler. He also worked with Allen and Bowler as a trio in Triangular; Essiet Essiet replaced Bowler for their 1988 recording. In 1989 he recorded in quartet format as Fo'tet, with Don Byron, Steve Wilson (later Bobby Franchesini), Melissa Slocum (later Belden Bullock), and Bryan Carrott. After living in Canada for some time he returned to Philadelphia, where he worked further with Fo'Tet and also recorded as Triangular Too with Slocum and Uri Caine. He also led a group Hip Pocket, with whom he played trumpet.
- Triangular (Blue Note Records, 1988)
- V (Blue Note, 1988)
- Volition (Blue Note, 1989)
- Ralph Peterson Presents the Fo'tet (Blue Note, 1989)
- Ornettology (Somethin' Else Records, 1990)
- Art (Blue Note, 1992)
- The Reclamation Project (Evidence Records, 1994)
- Fo'tet Plays Monk (Evidence, 1995)
- Back to Stay (Sirocco Jazz, 2000)
- Triangular 2 (Sirocco Jazz, 2000)
- The Art of War (Criss Cross Jazz, 2001)
- Subliminal Seduction (Criss Cross, 2002)
- Test of Time (Criss Cross, 2003)
- Fo'tet Augmented (Criss Cross, 2004)
- The Duality Perspective (Onyx, 2012)
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With Uri Caine
- Sphere Music (JMT, 1993)
- Toys (JMT, 1996)
- Blue Wail (Winter & Winter, 1999)
- The Goldberg Variations (Winter & Winter, 2000)
With Craig Harris
- Blackout in the Square Root of Soul (JMT, 1989)
With David Murray
- New Life (Black Saint, 1985)
- I Want to Talk About You (Black Saint, 1985)
- Ballads (DIW, 1988)
- Deep River (DIW, 1988)
- Spirituals (DIW, 1988)
- Lovers (DIW, 1988)
- Tenors (DIW, 1988)
- Schwachter, Jeff. "A Musical Homecoming for Ralph Peterson; From Pleasantville to Blakey to Berklee and beyond, Ralph Peterson’s life in jazz comes full circle with new album and Father’s Day concert in Atlantic City.", Atlantic City Weekly, June 13, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2013. "Peterson grew up in Pleasantville and graduated from Pleasantville High School. He then went to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, graduating in 1984, and 'studying with a lot of big [music] people there,' including Kenny Barron and Michael Carvin."
- "Ralph Peterson, Jr. Professor of Percussion". Retrieved 7 April 2014.
- Ralph Peter Jr. mentioned as a Taekwondo student of Michael J. O'Malley