Pete Whittaker was born and grew up in
Wolverhampton, in the West Midlands region of England,UK. From an early age he
was fascinated by all things musical, and as a youngster attempted to teach
himself guitar and clarinet, while having lessons on piano and violin.
Through his school years, Pete did the usual
thing of singing in choirs, playing violin (and viola) in the school orchestra
(and later in the Wolverhampton Youth Orchestra), but also joined and formed
teenage rock bands in which he played guitar and occasionally an old Hohner
Pianet electric piano (all amplified via an insanely cumbersome system, far too
big to be wholly contained within the boot/trunk of his parents' Austin Allegro
- what a car!!).
Moving on to the University of East Anglia,
Pete gained a music degree, and got interested in electroacoustic music. He
furthered his studies, gaining a masters degree in electroacoustic composition.
Having harboured since his mid-teens a
subconscious love of jazz (but having made little effort to try to listen to
much...) Pete became very much into the genre while at college. Having met
like-minded souls (notably saxophonist Julian Siegel, and pianist Kate Williams
- now Pete's wife) the study and practice of jazz took over from the vague pop
and rock rumblings of his adolescence.
Jazz piano in due course gave way to the
discovery of that force-of-nature known to the world as the organist Jimmy
Smith, the single most important jazz Hammond innovator ever. The sound of
those old Blue Note and Verve albums from the 1950s and 60s grabbed Pete by his
charity-shop lapels and made him determined to recreate the sounds for himself.
Obviously this would involve a return to the acquisition and frequent
transportation of even MORE cumbersome musical equipment than was previously
required. Thus was the beginning of Pete's professional life as a jazz
organist... twenty years later and he's still as excited by the music as he was
then (but now he has a proper van, and can play the organ better).
Pete was fortunate to gain wider experience
and exposure in the 1990s by touring with a couple of high-profile rock bands.
The first of these was an Indie-ish melodic rock band (with a distinct
folk-music influence) called The Wonder Stuff. Pete toured UK, Europe and North
America with them (on and off)from 1991 to their initial disintegration in
In 1996/7, Pete was invited by another
"guitar" rock band, The Catherine Wheel to perform similar touring
duties as he had with The Wonder Stuff. Several very jolly north American tours
ensued, but the band stopped working in 2000. Very soon afterwards, The Wonder
Stuff re-formed to do a series of high-profile come-back shows and Pete was
once more employed, but after a few years, the band fell out (again), and has
now re-formed with a significantly different line-up, sans Pete.
These periods of touring/recording gave
Pete glimpses of the Music Industry that seems largely irrelevant to (or at
least far more rare in) the world of jazz. Back in the 90s, major record
companies were still making and spending (often wasting) vast amounts of money,
though surprisingly little found its way to the musicians themselves.
Since moving to London in the late 1990s,
Pete has had his backside kicked (musically and literally) by many fine jazz
musicians. He will be eternally grateful to them all, and strives to learn from
their talent and his own mistakes.
Some really good bands and musicians with
whom Pete is/has been associated include:
Six (2009 to present. Boogaloos and funky jazz with twist of
Etheridge's Blue Spirits (2005 to present. Power-trio with John
Etheridge and Mark Fletcher)
Zöe Schwartz Blue
Commotion (Rob Koral/Zöe Schwartz, powerful electric Blues. New CD
"Exposed" out soon!!)
Double Talk (2006 on... Jazz meets Psychedelia with a twist of Prog)
Organ Trio (2002? to 2014. We won "Best Ensemble" in 2010
Britsh Parliamentary Jazz Awards)
Lockrane's Grooveyard (early 2000s to 2006)
Quartet (2004 to 2009)
Steve "Billy" Buckley and Eryl
Roberts (Ditto... new CD recorded and mixed but moth-balled for the present,
will post a bit of it on the sounds page soon...)
And occasional appearances with such UK
jazz luminaries as:
Jim Mullen, Dave Cliff, Dave O'Higgins,
Julian Siegel, Liane Carroll, Tony Kofi, Terry Smith, Mark Crooks, etc.