Drummer, bandleader, educator

Official website of drummer, bandleader and educator Pete Cater.



Pete Cater


“A gifted and versatile drummer, at home in any context”, (Rough Guide To Jazz)


2018 was another outstanding year for Pete Cater with standout performances at the London Drum Show and a hugely successful run of dates with The Organisation following on from the release of ‘Point Blank’ (Last Music Company) which culminated with a headline appearance at the London Jazz Festival.  Also Pete continues to appear regularly with legendary American jazz vocalist Salena Jones, and appears heading up his own bands when time permits.

This extraordinary continued success follows on from having being named in the top 5 jazz drummers in the world today in Rhythm magazine’s annual popularity poll  in 2015 (the other nominees were all from the USA). 


Pete has recently joined the British Drum Company as the ‘face’ of their newly launched Lounge Series drum range, and in 2018 visited China to perform and present a master class on behalf of the company.

Education was much to the fore in 2018 with the release of Pete’s instructional video, ‘On Drums’. Click on the store page for details of how to buy a copy

Pete is also proudly associated with the Zildjian Company

as well as Remo drumheads and Vater sticks, brushes and accessories.

Pete Cater has been involved with drums for his entire life. Movie footage exists of him hand drumming aged barely 12 months and the innate talent cannot be missed. His musical tastes matured similarly early, and courtesy of his Dad’s record collection he was, by age 5, already a devotee of Joe Morello, Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson.

Throughout these early years Pete never missed an opportunity to play. At this point he was going to work with his father and sitting in whenever possible. Playing with adult musicians proved to be invaluable experience, so that when Pete joined the Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra aged 13 his playing had the maturity of an adult drummer (, by 18 his prowess on the instrument was a clear indicator of what the future would hold ( and at 19 he became by far the youngest member of the All Stars Big Band, an 18 piece made up of top players in his home city of Birmingham, England. The same year the first incarnation of the Pete Cater Big Band made its debut


Big band playing led to small groups and Pete began playing with mainstream jazz musicians of an earlier generation. During this period he got to perform with USA legends including Benny Carter, Barney Kessell, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Nat Pierce, Teddy Edwards, and

many key figures from the UK, including Ronnie Scott, Dick Morrissey, Humphrey Lyttelton and John Dankworth.


Unfortunately this being the 1980s and the era of synth pop and electric drums, there was no tangible career path for a young jazz/swing/big band drummer in Pete’s hometown so he spent the next few years pursuing a nomadic existence working on cruise ships, resorts, theatres and one-night-stands. Jazz had to take second place for the time being.


In 1992, back in Birmingham briefly, Pete had occasion to play with Cuban trumpet virtuoso Arturo Sandoval. So impressed was Sandoval that he offered Pete dates in Europe later that year doing concerts paying homage to Clifford Brown.  

“We played Leverkusen, Germany one day. Steve Smith was on before us, and Billy Cobham immediately afterwards. Luckily I don’t get scared easily”.  

On his return from Europe Pete took what would turn out to be the most important gamble of his career to date, got off the road and settled in London. Once again jazz took a back seat and Pete rapidly became in demand across a broad spectrum of live and studio work.

“I was making good money and establishing myself in London, but music wasn’t much fun at that time”. 

As time passed Pete began to work his way in to the London jazz scene. He took a virtually full time road gig with singer Elaine Delmar which established him as a “name” throughout the UK, and his stunning, virtuoso solos consistently brought the house down. Also at this time Pete toured with the legendary Charlie Byrd and the Buddy DeFranco/Terry Gibbs quintet.

By now Pete had played with just about every top big band on the London circuit and had strong opinions about repertoire and how big band music should be interpreted. The result of his vision was a gathering of 16 of the most outstanding young musicians in Great Britain at the time, and the Pete Cater Big Band made its debut on April 30th 1995. The band soon established a strong presence on the London jazz scene and began appearing all over the UK on the festival circuit.


In 1997 Pete had to put the big band on hold for an extended tour of Japan with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, but immediately on his return to England work was concluded on the debut album “Playing With Fire” which helped to spread the word beyond UK shores and resulted in Pete being a shoo-in for Big Band of the Year in the British Jazz Awards 2000, and Critic’s Choice the following year.

This success brought Pete to the attention of Vocalion records, and the follow up album “Upswing” was recorded at the home of the Beatles, the legendary Abbey road studio 2 later that same year.

This was also one of the first CDs in the world to be recorded in the new 5.1 surround sound SACD format developed by Sony and Philips. The band has remained a popular attraction at UK jazz festivals ever since and its most recent album “The Right Time” (Vocalion) was released in 2006.

2018 marks the 23rd anniversary of the Pete Cater Big Band, an achievement that is practically unequalled for a band playing 100% instrumental jazz.

In 2002 Pete was elevated to the ranks of British jazz royalty when he was first choice to replace the late Ronnie Verrell (‘Animal’ from the Muppet Show) in the Best of British Jazz, an all-star sextet under the leadership of trombonist Don Lusher. Pete also appeared regularly with Don Lusher’s big band until Lusher passed away in 2006. 

Also during this period Pete worked with electronica pioneer Matthew Herbert on the crossover album “Goodbye Swingtime”, which resulted in live performances all over the world, from the Shanghai Jazz Festival to the Hollywood Bowl. Pete taught jazz drums for many years at the renowned Drumtech academy in London. A drummer of rare versatility, Pete’s performance credits also include Tom Jones, Kid Creole and the Coconuts and Jamie Cullum.

More recently Pete has appeared in a number of concerts with the big band where the emphasis has been on re-examining the Buddy Rich repertoire, and the October 2007 London concert ‘The Man From Planet Jazz’ was an enormous success. (, and this show has toured throughout the UK for over 10 years.

The concerts have been received with tremendous enthusiasm by audiences.

Pete says,

“In all my years playing big band shows I’ve never known anything go down anywhere like as well as this show. The audience reaction has been quite amazing”.


Pete’s next big band album although not a ‘tribute album’ as such, will be honouring the influence of Buddy’s fantastic musical legacy.

Also, trendy dance music label Freestyle Records included a Pete Cater track on their newly released CD ‘Music For Jazz Dancers’.

Pete Cater continues to care passionately that big band music is sustainable and properly represented in the ever more diverse contemporary music scene.

Also active in education Pete is a faculty member at the London Centre of Contemporary Music and appears at drum events throughout the UK and beyond as well as being an in demand private teacher.