Pete was born in New York City to a musical family. His father played trumpet in his early years but found his niche in the development of robots and artificial intelligence and ended up lecturing on creativity and innovation. His mother was a Julliard graduate and concert pianist in NYC. Pete's brother, now a guru of the internet (web standards) plays keyboards, flute and composes music.
It was his brother Jeff that got him into music, pinpointing bass lines and introducing him to an eclectic array of music. Pete's family moved to Pittsburgh where he took up the drums. Within a year of playing he got his N.A.R.D. rudimental certificate and started to develop his chops early. Also within that first year he was gigging with his brother and joined a fusion band with a child prodigy at the time named Danny ‘Stag’ Steigerwald who was later one of the founding members of Kingdom Come, an MTV Heavy Metal Rock band.
Deciding that he wanted to pursue music, Pete went to Berklee College of Music where he met and started gigging with fusion bands whose members included Baron Browne, Vic Bailey, Stu Hamm, Steve Vai and a host of other futures.
It was there that Pete recorded his first album with a Brazilian outfit that he was involved with. Pete would travel to New York to take some lessons with Kenwood Dennard.
When Pete went back to Pittsburgh he got to play with some great artists at a jazz club called Heaven. These artists included Sonny Stitt, Clark Terry, Jimmy Ponder, Lee Konitz, Slide Hampton and Lew Soloff. This was a great opportunity and was a welcome part of his early education. At the same time he was doing outdoor jazz festivals with American hard bop sax player Nathan Davis.
Aside from gigging regularly, Pete had a keen interest in rhythm and would seek out as much information about the subject as possible. At the same time he was starting to develop ever-increasing limb independence on the drums.
His individual style started while he was at Berklee but was now coming into its own.
Next Pete ventured off to Atlantic City and played the casino circuit. He performed shows nightly while working with a jazz trio with his close friend, Bass player Norm Hogel, a lesser-known but extraordinary musician. He would also end up working in Las Vegas doing ‘odd’ but useful gigs for further development.
After Atlantic City, Pete went to L.A. and did some work with Berklee friend Steve Vai, recording some tracks for Steve’s ‘Flexable’ and ‘Flex-Able Leftovers’ albums in his Chatsworth studio.
Throughout all of this, Pete was building rhythmic dreams that he would continue to work on and continuously listened to every style of music, including all world music. Pete says, "I was living as a caretaker on a 150 acre defunct movie ranch that was so isolated that mail wasn't even delivered there." This isolated movie ranch (front yard was Bonanza TV show's last set) was the perfect place to continue developing rhythm any time of day or night.
From L.A. Pete spent a short period of time in Washington D.C. doing some collaborative music with his brother Jeffrey for various dance companies. Then it was back to New York to do Off Broadway shows.
His mentor and friend Kenwood Dennard asked him if he wanted to teach at the Drummers Collective so Pete started teaching there and would remain a teacher there for 10 years. Early on, he would teach Rod Morgenstein's students when Rod was on the road, and then all the guys (teachers) would end up coming to Pete when they had questions regarding rhythm.
"It was a great time of musical exchange at the ‘Collective’. If there was free time between lessons I would get to jam with Frankie Malabe (Afro-Cuban percussionist and specialist) and Jaco Pastorius who also taught there at the time. So if we all had a vacant spot we would jam. I got to jam with Jaco and double drum with him which was great."
Vinnie (Colaiuta) popped in one time, "we had known each other for some time so we double drummed. It was cool because Vinnie started playing like Tony (Williams), I started playing like Vinnie so that he started to play more like himself and then I'd play like myself. It ended up very musical!"
Style, technique and ideas were all taking off and Pete started doing solo concerts at clubs like Roulette in downtown New York. He introduced multiple pedals to the equation and was now orchestrating with his hands as well as his feet.
Pete was one of the pioneers of multiple pedal orchestrations. Bill Milkowski started to write about Pete in various publications and people started talking about the extremes he was going to in breaking new ground on the drums and in rhythm itself.
One day, Kenwood asked him to help him out as he would be late to his Seventh Avenue South gig (the Brecker Brother's club) with the Tom Pierson big band featuring Anthony Jackson and David Sanborn. Pete says, "I couldn't turn it down and I was nervous, all really intricate charts very messily written in pencil! Scary." So he decided to do it. About the same time Pete did some session work with John Tropea.
His solo gigs were now being talked about, and Pete would join very ‘Downtown’ rock and eclectic bands in NYC. These included some great, unsigned acts like The Card Game (pictured below) and 2.5D. Stewart Copeland was played some 2.5D music in a Modern Drummer magazine blindfold test and said he was going to buy it as soon as it came out. His remarks were very positive. However, because the band was unsigned, he never got the opportunity.
Pete recalls doing strange performance spaces and performance art gigs. One that stands out is a gig at the Kitchen with Alan Ginsberg. Pete was also doing the CBGBs circuit with strange techno acts like Von LMO. "One night they were filming a documentary for CBGBs and we were in it. This guy was a cross between Sid Vicious and Elvis Presley! Techno machine stuff". Later that evening he played a party with one string African bassist Hassan Hakmoun.
Also part of the ‘downtown’ scene in New York, Pete did a wide variety of gigs at places like the Knitting Factory and New Music Cafe, as well as the Gas Station on lower east side, with people like Elliott Sharp and others close to the John Zorn nest.
Then Pete released his first CD ‘Other: Not Elsewhere’ and suddenly the talking got louder.
Also about this time, toward the end of his time at ‘The Collective’, he bumped into Aquarium Rescue Unit in Florida. "We had been friends for a while and I was back stage at one of their sold out arena concerts and suddenly heard Oteil Burbridge announce me (to sit in on one of their encores) so I did it. This was at a pretty rocky time in my life and things were pretty crazy, but I remember playing a duet with Oteil and having fun grinding out an impromptu duet."
Just before his hiatus, Jim Donovan from Rusted Root asked Pete to play an outdoor concert with his group in Pittsburgh so that he could be out front on guitar. He agreed and this would end up being Pete's last musical venture for a couple of years.
He took some years away from music as a decision to focus on wellness of being and getting centred as a result of circumstances that were "needing to be addressed". Strangely, developments in rhythm still kept growing, even without the instrument's presence.
Upon his return, Pete worked with vocalist Najma Akhtar (South Asian ghazal style) in London and Israel with an Asian fusion group that she put together combining Pakistani/Indian semi-classical, folk, Sufi, Bollywood, Indian underground and trance musics together.
He did some shows with comedian Harry Hill to large sold out venues in England and Wales. Visiting friends in London, he did some drum clinics on a borrowed drum set as he had not been playing for a couple of years. About this same time, Geoff Nichols wrote in Rhythm magazine that Pete was, "Possibly the most technically advanced drummer in the world."
Then Pete started focusing back to playing again and remembers ‘the gift’ returning stronger than it ever was. Something Pete attributes to the ‘incubator effect’.
Taking advantage of this, Pete is releasing NEW, even more developed solo music that has now been documented on video.
Currently, the birth of the band ‘Albert Snoid’ is happening as collaboration between Pete and his friend, guitarist Tommy Emmerton. "It's a type of eclectic fusion with a lot of really cool rhythmic stuff going on within immense groove atmospheres."
Solo music may be heard on Pete's releases ‘Other: Not Elsewhere’ and ‘Twilight Walks Over’ both available on itunes. Be assured, these tracks are NOT OVERDUBBED and were all performed LIVE without the use of overdubs, doublers or any other extraneous effects!
Incredible feats on the instruments can be seen and heard on the ‘Pete Zeldman: Enigma’ video available at http://www.pete-zeldman.com
As the head of Fluid Image (movie company), Kenny Evans says about the Enigma release: "Seeing is believing and this is one that should definitely not be missed!"