REVIEW: Pete Cater Big Band 20th Anniversary at Cadogan Hall

Pete Cater

Pete Cater Big Band
(Cadogan Hall, 20th April 2015, Review by Sebastian Scotney)

It is salutory to be reminded quite how good Buddy Rich’s top-flight 60s/70s big bands in full cry could sound, and what fine arrangements they had to play from. Opportunities to savour this music live are rare these days. The task of keeping this particular flame alive, and reminding London of the visceral power of this music seems to fall – essentially – to one exceptional, energetic, committed man, who has taken on that responsibility for two decades and who also happens to lead the band from the drum kit, Pete Cater. He said that in the round of interviews he has done in the run-up to this concert at Cadogan Hall, the question which  kept on coming up was: “How do you keep a band going for 20 years?” And the answer: “You just don’t stop.”

The most powerful assertion of the indefatigable power of this music comes in arranger Bill Reddie’s West Side Story Suite, written for the Buddy Rich Band, as were most of the arrangements in this concert. It is a remarkably virtuosic work, with constant rhythm switchbacks, and it allows every section of the band to burn and flare. The piece does have a wonderful calm central section  (curiously omitted in this video version by the Rich band, to make way for a ten minute drum solo). Given his moment to shine, Andy Flaxman played the trombone solo on Somewhere, which requires at least the same expressive and communicative power of the one in Mahler’s 3rd Symphony heart-rendingly and truly memorably.

It was also fascinating to hear Hank Levy’s Whiplash played complete, uninterrupted and live.

The Pete Cater Big Band at Cadogan Hall

Other moments to savour were the solo contributions of Bob Martin on alto saxophone, whose unmistakeable powerful sound graced the Rich band of the seventies, and who is all too rarely heard in London these days, having moved to France. The trumpet solos of Craig Wild and Joe Auckland had character and power every time, but Andy Greenwood‘s blazing glorious excursions into the stratosphere in Jay Craig’s OK with Jay was the kind of playing you tell your grandchildren about. And the finger-speed of Dave Jones on Don Menza’s fast and furious Time Out was the sort of virtuosity where you demand a slo-mo video to prove it really happened.

All in all, this was an evening to celebrate the kind of known, predictable virtues of beautifully-crafted music superbly played. And to salute the determination and industriousness of Pete Cater who has been making it happen here for two decades.


1 Machine (Bill Reddie)
2 Willowcrest (Bob Florence)
3 Moments Notice
4 In a Mellow Tone (Ellington Arr Oliver Nelson)
5 Cape Verdean Blues (Horace Silver )
6 Whiplash (Hank Levy)
7 Good Bye Yesterday(Don Piestrup)
8 Round Midnight
9 Love for Sale


1 Don’t Rain on My Parade
2 A Long Day’s Journey
3 Time Out (Don Menza)
4 Wack Wack (Eldee Young, Red Holt/ Arr Shorty Rogers)
5 Can’t Get Started
6 OK With Jay (Jay Craig)
7 West Side Story Suite (Bernstein Arr. Bill Reddie)
8 You Gotta Try (Nestico)

Saxophones Michael Coates, Bob Martin, Martin Dunsdon, Steve Main, Jay Craig
Trumpets Joe Auckland, Craig Wild, Andy Greenwood, Ken Wedrychowski
Trombones Andy Flaxman, Keith Hutton, Bruce Douglas
Piano Rob Barron
Bass Dave Jones
Drums/ Leader Pete Cater

LINKS: Pete Cater interview
World’s Greatest Drummer concert in Northampton 0n 26th May

Categories: miscellaneous

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