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PETER KING, in the words of one critic, “is the finest alto saxophonist that Britain has ever produced, and one of the finest in the world today” (Dave Gelly, 'The Giants Of Jazz', Aurum Press, 1986). He has been a major influence on the British Jazz scene ever since he played (at the age of eighteen!) the opening of Ronnie Scott's Club, London’s internationally famous Jazz Mecca. “Had Scott's Club died overnight and been heard of no more, it could still have justified its existence by pointing to a discovery like Peter King.”(Benny Green, 'Jazz Decade, Ten Years At Ronnie Scott's', King's Road Publishing Ltd 1969) ” A wonderful musician, Peter King is a master of his instrument. People are aware of that here in America as well as in England” said Elvin Jones in Jazz U.K. magazine Sept 2001. "Peter King is one of the best musicians in the world." (Lalo Schifrin
Although he now concentrates on his work as a solo artist and with his regular Quartet, Peter has worked with such legends as Bud Powell, Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Milt Jackson, Lalo Schifrin, Frank Foster’s ‘new’ Count Basie Band and the Ray Charles Orchestra. He has also recorded with Hampton Hawes, Al Haig, Philly Joe Jones, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, and many others, including Red Rodney, who said this of Peter. “He’s got that natural growl in his playing – yet he’s soft and beautiful when he wants to be.” Peter has also worked with many great singers such as Ernestine Anderson, Joe Williams, Anita O'Day, and made albums with Dakota Staton, Jon Hendricks, and Jimmy Witherspoon. He has also accompanied artists as diverse as Tony Bennett, Marlene Dietrich, Eatha Kitt, James Brown and Lauren Bacall. King is also known for his recorded work with the pop group, ’Everything but the Girl’ and as featured soloist and Musical Director of the Charlie Watts Quintet. Peter can also be seen in films such as ‘Blue Ice' starring Michael Caine and ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’, starring Mat Damon and directed by the Oscar winning Anthony Minghella. Peter can also be heard playing on Mike Figgis’ film ‘Time Code’ particularly over the opening titles.
As a featured performer, Peter has long been a favourite of European jazz festival audiences, including, in France at Marciac with Phil Woods, Bobby Watson, Cedar Walton, and Victor Lewis; in addition to festivals in Nice, Paris, etc: in Belgium, Comblain le Tour, Liege, Bilzen, and Gouvi, Spain Bilbao, San Sabastian, etc, Finland, Pori, and Norway Molde, as at Pori, with John Hicks and Idris Muhammad. Peter has been a special guest of Lalo Schifrin with various Symphony Orchestras at concerts in Germany, Switzerland and Finland and joined him in Israel for concerts in January 2000 with the Israeli Philharmonic. There have also been several appearances at the Berlin Jazz Festival, including a concert with Phil Woods and Jackie McLean. Phil was a special guest with Peter’s Quintet at the Glasgow Festival, and Johnny Griffin joined him in a special appearance at the Cork Festival (Ireland). The latter featured a string section for which Peter did all the writing. Additionally, Peter was the only non-American artist invited to perform at the Gem Theatre in Kansas City during a week of celebrations in honour of Charlie Parker in March 1999.
In the summer of 1999, Peter played and performed a small ‘acting’ role in the Julian Barry play ‘Lenny’. The work involved being on stage throughout the play and acting in several small scenes. Directed by Sir Peter Hall and with Eddy Izzard in the title roll, ‘Lenny’ is about the life of Lenny Bruce and received rave reviews when it opened in London’s West End. In March 2000 he toured with Benny Golson and his tribute band, ‘Roots’.
A prolific composer and arranger, one of the best known works being "Janus", a BBC commission, featuring his own Quartet and the "Lyric String Quartet". A CD of the work was released in 2006. Peter has many albums to his name, including “Lush Life” and ‘Tamburello’ (which won the Best CD of the Year prize at the ‘BT British Jazz Awards’). Other winners include Wynton Marsalis. The latest CD, "Janus", is available on the same “Miles Music” label, run jointly by John Miles and Peter Watts, who is responsible for the excellent sound production on all Miles Music albums. In the Autumn of 2001 Peter went on the road again with the new Charlie Watts Tentet, for which he wrote several arrangements and shared the role of Leader. As well as playing two weeks at Ronnie Scott’s, the band played at the Blue Note in Tokyo and New York. In October 2002 Peter visited Russia for an extensive and highly successful solo tour. This was followed by a return trip in Aug 2003 when his Quartet played in Ufa and at the Moscow Summer Festival where Peter was presented with a special Life Time Achievement award. Peter’s latest project is a full length two act opera, Zyklon, with the libretto by Julian Barry. A short workshop version was performed at the City University of New York on 13 Dec 2004 and received a standing ovation. There are now moves to get the work fully staged, in a full length version and two orchestral pieces from Zyklon were performed with a chamber orchestra at St John's Smith Square in London on 4 June 2005.
In 2005 Peter won the prestigious BBC “Musician of the Year” award and his quartet and quintet appeared at Jazz Festivals in Dubai, Ankara and Castellon. He also played a very successful “Bird with Strings” concert in Paris, featuring his own string transcriptions and some new original string arrangements.
In 2006 Peter was commissioned to compose a new Mass for Jazz Quintet and full cathedral choir which was premiered with great success at Newcastle Cathedral in May 2007. Negotiations are under way for him to compose similar works for both the “Evensong” and “Matins” services so that, for the first time, Jazz versions of all three services could be performed on the same day
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