Peter Donald attended the Berklee School of Music and, while studying composition, played drums in the local Boston clubs with many jazz groups, including Al Cohn-Zoot Sims, Phil Woods, Clark Terry, Joe Henderson, Sam Rivers, Charlie Mariano, Paul Bley and John Abercrombie.
Since 1971, Peter has lived in Los Angeles, and has worked and recorded with such pop acts as Helen Reddy, Olivia Newton-John, Peter Allen and Toni Braxton. He has done a variety of television and film work as a player, producer and musical contractor and was executive producer of Dick Halligan & Associates, an L.A. based commercial and film music house.
Peter has recorded and toured with the Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew- Tabackin Big Band, winner of Downbeat’s Critics and Readers Poll, and singer Carmen McRae. He was a member of the John Abercrombie Quartet, a cooperative group that he co-founded. The quartet toured extensively in the United States, Europe and Japan and played many major jazz festivals including Newport-New York, Monterey, Northseas and Antibes.
From 1985 to 1992, Peter was director of the Percussion Program at the Grove School of Music in L.A. while continuing to work and record with various groups including the Denny Zeitlin Trio and the prestigious L.A. based Bob Florence Limited Edition.
From 1992 through 2002, Peter brought his varied professional experience to bear in his capacity as a partner and music supervisor for the internationally known advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather. He then formed 2beat productions, a music consulting & production company which was active in the field of commercials and recordings. Out of the production and agency experience 2beat morphed into Jazz Planet which licenses jazz exclusively for film, broadcast, video games, the Internet and theatrical production.
Peter also co-led a trio called “3prime” with pianist Tom Rainier and bassist Abraham Laboriel, Sr. from 2003 through 2006, which recorded a highly acclaimed CD, 3prime Live at Rocco, for the Fuzzy Music label. In 2010 Peter received a B.A. in Urban Community and Environmental Studies from Antioch University Los Angeles.
Subsequently, he was awarded a California State Teaching Credential in Social Studies (single subject) from Cal State Northridge in 2012.
From Peter Erskine:
Peter Donald - my best musician friend in LA, he and his wife Darlene Chan have been like family to me and my wife Mutsy ever since we moved to Santa Monica. I knew Peter and Darlene back in the Weather Report day: Darlene was producing all sorts of festival gigs including the Aurex Festivals in Japan and the Playboy Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
I was getting a lot of compliments intended for Peter Donald when I first moved to LA, as our names are similar and we looked alike. I would always smile and thank the person for their telling me that I was one of their favorite drummers, only for my smile to dull and wane a bit when they would continue, "So whatís it like to work with Toshiko Akiyoshi?". I think that maybe Peter got a few of my compliments, too.
At any rate, he has been like a big brother to me for all of the years we've been in LA. He is also the world's greatest Sonny Payne fills fan and expert extant. And he cooks a mean barbecue. He co-leads a group with Tom Ranier and Abe Laboriel Sr. called "3prime." In his own prime, Peter Donald was one of the finest drummers I've ever heard.