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“Life Moves In Mysterious Ways,” – After the recession, a man trades his Wall Street Career for the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Guest, Former Wall Street Securities Trader turned Hollywood Film Producer, and Managing Producer of Rumble Riot Pictures, Sean Lydiard; and Musical Guest, Accomplished Pianist, Singer, Arranger and Songwriter, Peter Smith on The LIFE CHANGES Show
GUEST SEAN LYDIARD and MUSICAL GUEST: PETER SMITH
Peter is an accomplished pianist, singer, arranger, and songwriter, and his career has flourished on both coasts. Originally a New Yorker, Peter has lived in Los Angeles since 2005. He is especially in demand as an arranger and musical director for singers, in various musical genres. He is co-creator of “TOO MARVELOUS FOR WORDS: a celebration of Nat “King” Cole.” Peter performs in the show alongside Keith David. Peter is also musical director for Ty Taylor’s project: “The Nouveau Mid Century Romance Songbook,” which debuted at the Wallis in LA. Peter is co-producer, pianist and MD of the album of the same title, which was released worldwide in 2018.
Peter had just started working with Natalie Cole as her primary accompanist (just prior to her passing), and he has been traveling the world as Molly Ringwald’s
pianist/MD, and served as co-producer and arranger on her Concord Records release: “Except Sometimes.” He has played on major stages large and small: Iridium (NYC), Jazz Alley (Seattle), Yoshi’s (SF), Blues Alley (DC), Montreal Jazz festival, Vector Arena (NZ), Melbourne Recital Centre (AUS), and many, many more.
Peter was an associate Music Director for both seasons of THE FOUR on Fox, working directly with contestants and in conjunction with Music Directors Rickey Minor and Adam Blackstone. He was also the associate Musical Director on DUETS, the hit singing competition show on ABC. Peter worked directly with Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles, Robin Thicke and John Legend, not only accompanying them and their contestants in rehearsal, but collaborating with them on the musical arrangements for the show.
In 2009, Peter released his debut jazz album: HERE IT COMES, which featured a mix of original material and standard repertoire. The musicians on the album are Allen Mezquida, Charles Owens, Trevor Ware, Clayton Cameron, and both Patrice Quinn and Molly Ringwald are featured vocalists. This album was well received, and he followed it up the following year with an ambitious live project: BLUES AT ALVAS. This recording branched out into some different repertoire (Otis Redding, Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen) as well as familiar standard material and Jazz originals. This album features most of the same musicians (Allen, Trevor, Clayton, Patrice) and adds Kamasi Washington, Nick Mancini, and Jacques Lesure. Apart from these two albums (and both Molly Ringwald’s and Mark Arthur Miller’s releases), a sampling of Peter’s discography includes: Laura Harrison’s CD, NOW HERE; Lisa Donna’s and Kristina Pradd’s self-titled releases; GIMME GIMME GIMME (Reinterpreting Black Flag), and Janet LaBelle’s BLOSSOM AND BLUE.
Peter’s composing career is merging with the Industry in Los Angeles, and his compositions can be heard on numerous TV shows (MINDY PROJECT, CSI, BENCHED, HOW TO LIVE WITH YOUR PARENTS, etc) as well as in commercials and in the films HOTEL NOIR, MYTH OF FINGERPRINTS, and BLEACHED. He has a growing repertoire of original pop/soul music, which is finding it’s way in the singer/songwriter rooms of Los Angeles as well as the hands of some major artists.
Peter attended Columbia University, majoring in literature but studying classical piano with Michael Skelly and entering an extended mentorship with Jazz great, pianist Mike LeDonne. Peter also was a DJ at the acclaimed radio station at Columbia, WKCR, where he interviewed many of the great pianists in New York and attended the “Jazz University” of historian Phil Schaap.
A short list of additional musicians/vocalists with whom Peter has played, performed and/or recorded includes: Roy McCurdy, John B. Williams, Anthony Wilson, Stephon Harris, Edwin Livingston, Gary Wang, Stevie Wonder, Brenna Whitaker, Laura Mace, Maiya Sykes, Gilbert Castellanos, Melissa Morgan, Janis Mann, Ben Harper, John Beasley, James Tormé, Terron Brooks, Kenny Burrell, Bobby Watson, Dwight Trible, Keith David, Alexys Schwartz, Michael Beardon, and many of the best sidemen in Los Angeles.
An accomplished actor as well, Peter’s career has brought him many roles on the small screen in shows like “Law and Order,” “24,” “Scandal,” “Weeds,” “CSI,” and many more. Peter has also performed on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Regional stages. Combining his experiences in acting and music, Peter has written a screenplay about jazz pianist Bill Evans during his time with Miles Davis. The script, “Blue in Green,” has received much acclaim in the industry and is slowly inching it’s way towards production.
“…the excellent pianist Peter Smith…” -Stephen Holden, NYTimes, 2014
“Ace pianist-arranger Peter Smith, a solid, bona fide jazz musician who swings in chords, like Oscar Peterson.” – Rex Reed, NY Observer, 2014
“The gifted pianist and arranger Peter Smith… specialises in considered, handsome piano figures, measured and richly melodic.”
-Andrew Cartmel, London Jazz News, 2015
“The tune “Bradley’s Nights” was filled with the embrace of Be-bop. Peter had the exact touch, modulation, and color that lead audience members transcending to New York City in spirit. This was done without leaving the A-Frame. Peter’s original work of art, “Put My Fears to Rest” was a calming and haunting whisper that spoke volumes in love and union. The resolving of within various moments in the song left you with an almost spiritually calming influence.” -Kim Vinson, www.broowaha.com
“I quickly realized why she was so locked into Smith — he’s a phenomenal player and innovative creator. On the swinging “I’ll Take Romance” (Oakland and Hammerstein), Smith showed virtuosic precision and inspiring creativity on his lengthy solo, even throwing in an “If I Only Had A Brain” quote at one point.”
-Matt Fernandes, KDHX St. Louis
“Performing with an expert jazz trio led by pianist/musical director Peter Smith…”
-Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
“Behind these songs were some very clever arrangements and with charts written specifically for the album and tour. These are the work of the respected LA pianist/arranger Peter Smith. Peter has worked with Molly for some time and so he understood exactly what is required. He is a talented pianist with great chops but he followed the most basic rule of all. An accompanist must never get in the way of the singer. It is matter of utilising just the right voicings and the chord placement must accent the singer’s performance not dominate it. Whether comping or taking a brief solo Peter was always tasteful. Not every accompanying pianist knows how to perform their duties so skilfully. The next night I invited Peter to a newly opened Jazz venue and he sat in with local musicians. In this situation he was able to let loose and he did, keyboards not withstanding.”
“With superb, imaginative backing by pianist/music director Peter Smith…”
“Plus, we couldn’t have hoped for better accompaniment: Peter Smith (who co-produced the album with Ringwald) on piano, Trevor Ware on bass and the always-amazing Clayton Cameron on drums.” Jim Harrington, Jazz Times
“The instrumentation on Except Sometimes
is consistently solid, but pianist Peter Smith in particular deserves a tip of the cap for his accompaniment on track five, “The Very Thought of You” (originally written and performed by Ray Noble). A clear high point for the album, Smith’s gentle, flowing rhythms perform dutifully in highlighting Ringwald’s somber serenade. ” -Robby Ritacco, TheaterMania.com
“Here It Comes is an incredibly impressive release by Smith who is certainly a talent worth paying plenty of attention to.”
“Peter Smith’s artistic talents as pianist,composer, and singer reflect his inclusive and engaging nature as a man. This is a beautifully done CD with great performances by all. A truly memorable musical journey that one will enjoy taking again and again.”
–John B.Williams (internationally-renowned bassist and composer)
“It was good to hear that Peter Smith has a new album “Blues at Alvas”. I’ve been following Peter’s career these past few years. He’s a fine pianist and singer. He surprised me as I didn’t know he sings. The arrangements on his new record are original. This new recording is backed by one of my favorite rhythm sections in LA, Clayton Cameron and Trevor Ware. Bravo!”
-John Beasley, grammy-nominated Jazz pianist