Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Giger, Peter

Giger, Peter, drummer; b. Zurich, Switzerland, 12 April 1939. He grew up in or near Berne. In 1958, he toured Europe with the Tremble Kids, Oskar Klein, Albert Nicholas, Bill Coleman, Joe Turner, Wild Bill Davison, Peanuts after Holland. In 1960, after short guest performance with Armand Gordons Ragtime Band, he moved to Paris and played with Bill Coleman, Stephane Grapelli, Memphis Slim a. o.

In 1961, he played with the Claude Bolling Sextet / Big Band. In 1963, he toured with Beryl Bryden, Diz Dizzley and Johnny Parker in Malaysia and Sarawak. In 1964, he played with tap-dancer Harold Nicholas, Rene Urtreger. From 1965-68, he was a studio-musician in Paris, again with Claude Bolling. In 1969, he moved back to Berne and played with Four For Jazz, Heinz Bigler, Isla Eckinger, Joe Haider, Gerd Dudek, and Benny Bailey. He co-founded the Swiss Jazz School. In 1970, he was initiator of the first international Jazz Clinic in Wengen, Switzerland. His trio was founded in 1990, when Vitold Rek moved from Warsaw to Frankfurt/M. Him and Gerd Dudek took part from then on in Giger's Formation "Jazz meets Timbila" in Mozambique and Europe. The Trio plays concerts internationally and has two CDs out.

By the end of the sixties already he formed the idea to initiate a group alone with drummers and percussionists. 1971, still teaching at the Swiss Jazz School in Berne, he founded the "Drum Circus" with drummers Alex Bally and Marc Helmann. This group yet still contained "melodic instruments" (Gerd Dudek, saxes/flute, Joel Vandrogenbroek, organ/sitar, Isla Eckinger, bass), singer was the later on rising star Polo Hofer.

Only until 1976 in Frankfurt/M he finally reached his concept. Just a year before, due to the lack of appropriate musicians at the time, he had recorded an LP with the title Family of Percussion by using multi-tracking, playing the single parts of his compositions all by himself. Now he founded the group Family of Percussion at first with the German drummers Joe Nay, Christoph Haberer, Heinrich Hock and with vibraphonist Wolfgang Schluter. A year after that, 1977, he re-casted the group entirely and engaged drummer Doug Hammond, congaplayer Tom Nicholas (both USA) and Tablaplayer Trilok Gurtu (India) into the Family. The success of this quartet was sensational and triggered off the formation of percussion-ensembles all over Europe.
In the meanwhile, the FOP, in varying formations, enjoyed huge success in more than a dozen countries on three continents. Some of the prominent guest-perfoming percussionists include a. o. Nana Vasconcelos, Dom Um Romao and Sergio Bore from Brasil, Billy "Bongo" Torres from Peru, Daoud Amin from Puerto Rico, Burhan ...cal from Turkey, Nemat Dharman from Iran, T.V. Gopalkrishnan from India and Badou Diop from Senegal.

In the last decade Peter has composed music in all sorts of instrumentations and in his new program "Textures For Drums & Percussion"; contrary to his former concept, playing solo-concerts purely acoustic, he now uses sound-textures as playbacks to his improvisations. He is also working together with a highly competent and innovative music software development company in Dresden on the transformation of sound into video-scanned pictures. This feature may be added to his concert appearance.

In 1973, he moved to Frankfurt / M. and played with the M., Albert Mangelsdorff Quintett. 1973 saw the publication of his "neuen schlagzeugschule" Vol. I (out of print). In 1976, he played with the trio "Giger-Lenz-Marron". He was initiator and director of the first percussion-course in Weikersheim. In 1977, he did a  solo performance at the Berliner Jazztage and published "neue schlagzeugschule" Vol. II (out of print). In 1980, he toured with FOP and Archie Shepp. 

In 1984, the FOP played in India. He played in New Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Concerts a. o. with Zakir Hussein, Umayalpuram K. Shivaraman and Palgat Raghu. Guests in Gigers different groups: Nana Vasconcelos, Gerd Dudek, Wolfgang Dauner, Joachim Kuhn, Steve Swallow, Michal Urbaniak, Victor Bailey, Alan Skidmore, Christian Escoude, Sam Rivers, Chistof Lauer, John Schroder, Thomas Heidepriem a.m.o.. Directed the "World Percussion and Jazz Jubilee" in Wengen/Switzerland. In 1985, he started the collaboration with Mangelsdorff / Dauner & FOP. In 1986, he played a duo-concert with Max Roach at the Jazzfestival, Hofheim. In 1988, he formed the "Peter Giger Quartet" with Jasper van t'Hof, Tomasz Stanko and Vitold Rek.

In 1991, he played fusion with timbila-musicians from Zavala (Leader: Eduardo Durao). In 1992, he made his second journey to Mozambique. In 1994, he moved to Meissen (Saxony) and founded Sound-Studio. He toured with his trio and with FOP in Eastern Germany. In 1996, the FOP had their third visit to Mozambique and played festivals in Zavala and Maputo.

In 2000, FOP participated at the "Euro Art Meeting" in Wroclav, Poland: "Ethnic Percussion Symphony" by Sambor Dudzinski.

Family Of Percussion (1975); Peter Giger & Friends: Illegitimate Music (1976); Giger/Lenz/Marron: Beyond (1976), Where The Hammer Hangs (1977); Family Of Percussion: Message To The Enemies Of Time (1977), Sunday Palaver (1979), Here Comes The Family (1980); Africa Meets Europe (1979); Peter Giger's Family Of Percussion & Friends: Mozambique Meets Europe (1992), Family Jewels (1993); Jazzz... (1993); For Drummers Only
As sideperson:
Four For Jazz: Power Of Nature (1971); Albert  Mangelsdorff Quintet: Birds Of Underground (1973)

Herr Der Trommeln: Die Peter Giger Story (English version: Lord Of The Drums) (1999)

Die Kunst Des Rhythmus (350 pp.)
"The Art of Rhythm"

Contact information:
Peter Giger,
CH-6675 Cevio

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