Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Meyer, Peter "Banjo,"

Meyer, Peter "Banjo," banjo, guitar, vocal; b. Hambug, Germany, 28 March 1944.

Raised in a musical family, he started playing professionally at the age of 15 in and around his hometown. He founded his first own band, the New Orleans Hot Owls in 1963 and made his first recordings with this band. From 1964 on, he played with "local hero" trumpet player Abbi Hunter and His Low Down Wizards. He made recordings for Jazz Crusade/USA with this band in 1965. From 1967-1970, he only played music occasionally because of becoming a racing-driver (single-seater race cars), North German champion in 1969. Rejoined the music scene in 1970 when, together with clarinet-player Gunther Liebetruth, founded the Jazz Lips, of which he is still a member since then. In 1973, he made recordings with his own band, Meyer's Dampfkapelle, which brought him national fame being No.1 in the German charts. He made more than 50 TV appearances with this band in the years 1973-74. He was elected best banjoist in German Jazz Poll 1974 and 1975. His accompaniments of famous guest-artists and as a member of different bands has made him well known. He played with many "star" names in jazz, i.e. Benny Waters, Albert Nicholas, numerous tours and recordings. He toured Mexico and USA in the 70s and 80s with own band and as a guest artist at the San Jose Banjo Festival. Since 1977, he has an official contract with OME-Banjos, USA, playing and promoting their outstanding instruments. He left Jazz Lips in the early 80s for five years with Old Merry Tale Jazzband and playing guitar with Rhythm & Blues Band Reiner Regel's Airmail. Organized the Int. Banjo Festival Tours from 1986, including int. Banjo-Stars like Bela Fleck, Buddy Wachter, Buck Kelly, Cythia Sayer to name a few. Rejoined JAZZ LIPS in mid-80s. He worked with NDR Radio Big Band for recordings of the German edition of Sesame-Street and the Bremer Symphonie Orchestra in their production of Porgy & Bess. In 1994 founded his European Jazz Giants which featured almost every great Jazz musician of the European Jazz Scene, i.e. Charly Antolini, Oscar Klein, Roy Williams, Vic Pitt, Antti Sarpila, Jesper Thilo, Fessor Lindgreen, Andy Cooper, Patrick Artero, Colin Dawson, just to name a few. He's been a steady member and co-leader of Andy Cooper's Euro Top 8 since 1996 and tours with New Orleans-vocalist Lillian Boutte, including the production of New Orleans Parade 2002. He's produced many LP-albums for other bands and wrote liner-notes for many albums. He has composed more that 150 titles, worked as arranger and record-producer for many bands and artists, His performances show him to be not only a banjo-player of great virtuosity with a great musical spectrum but also as one who through his natural humorous presentation of a programme is a convincing show. Peter's playing as a rhythm-man is absolutely tasteful and stands out for fine harmony. With his sense for rhythmic refinement he supports the band and soloists and has a vast influence on the sound of every band he is playing in.

Eurojazz Discos - Peter "Banjo" Meyer, compiled by Gerard Bieldermann (1997), lists more than 600 recorded titles with numerous bands, under own name, as soloist and sideman. Outstanding recordings: Jazz Lips (1973); Banjo Live Book (1973); Hamburg All Stars (1974); Meyer's Kampfkapelle (1974); Jazz Lips (featuring Ikey Robinson and Thomas Jefferson) (1975); Peter Meyers Ragtime Sinfoniker (1975); Clyde Bernhard's Harlem Blues & Jazz Band (1977); Duellin' Banjos (1983); The Translatlantic Banjo Company - Buddy Wachter and Peter "Banjo" Meyer (1986); European Jazz Giants (1994); European Jazz Giants (1998); Andy Cooper's Euro Top 8 (2002, DVD released in 2003)

Radio, television and videos:
Numerous TV, Radio, Press-reviews, Videos throughout his career, too much to list

Jazz Lips - A Family Album, 1995 (Schwarck/Wilster) 162 pages
Eurojazz Discos - Peter "Banjo" Meyer - compiled by Gerard Bieldermann (1997), 48 pages

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