Ralph Peterson Jr.

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Ralph Peterson Jr.
Born (1962-05-20) May 20, 1962 (age 56)
Pleasantville, New Jersey, U.S.

Ralph Peterson Jr. (born May 20, 1962) is an American jazz drummer and bandleader.

Early life[edit]

Four of Peterson's uncles and his grandfather were drummers. 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 and Rutgers to study drums, but he failed the percussion entrance exam and enrolled as a trumpeter instead, graduating in 1984.[1]

Later life and career[edit]

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).

During 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 with Fo'Tet and recorded as Triangular Too with Slocum and Uri Caine. He also led the group Hip Pocket, with whom he played trumpet.

Peterson has taught at Berklee College of Music in Boston[2] and University of the Arts in Philadelphia.


As leader[edit]

  • V (Blue Note, 1987)
  • Triangular (Blue Note, 1988)
  • Volition (Blue Note, 1989)
  • Ralph Peterson Presents the Fo'tet (Blue Note, 1989)
  • Ornettology (Somethin' Else, 1990)
  • Art (Blue Note, 1992)
  • The Reclamation Project (Evidence, 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)
  • Outer Reaches (Onyx, 2010)
  • The Duality Perspective (Onyx, 2012)
  • ALIVE Volume I (Onyx 2013)
  • ALIVE Volume II (Onyx 2014)
  • Triangular III (Onyx 2016)
  • Dream Deferred (Onyx 2016)

As sideman[edit]

With Uri Caine

With Craig Handy

With Craig Harris

With David Murray

With Tom Harrell

  • Moon Alley (Criss Cross, 1985)

With James Spaulding


  1. ^ 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." Archived 2014-08-19 at the Wayback Machine., 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."
  2. ^ "Ralph Peterson Jr. Professor of Percussion". Retrieved 7 April 2014.