Pete Long


Pete Long

Pete’s career began fairly inauspiciously at the age of 18 deep within the bowels of the Nat West bank in Marble Arch putting bank statements into envelopes. An unfortunate incident involving a picture of a lady and a horse being accidentally sent to the Convent of the Sacred Heart along with their financial records led to a re-think and a few days later, Pete had enrolled at the Royal London College Of Music. After a couple of years of hard study, ruthless self-denial and curry, Pete was out on the road with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, and during his time there, got to play all five saxophone parts, the solo flute part, the bass guitar, and on one rather messy occasion, the fourth trumpet. Having the unusual inclination to play modern jazz on the rather “old-fashioned” clarinet led to several works for clarinet and big band being commissioned during his stay, and established a tradition of clarinet solos in NYJO which has plagued the saxophone section ever since.

After the apprenticeship had been served, fame and endless riches were only around the corner in the form of the John Simons Rhumba Showband on the QE2, and Pete’s orange frilly flamenco shirtsleeves and sassy sombrero became one of the familiar sights in the bars, clubs and clinics around the ports of the Caribbean Sea. At this time, Pete acquired the knack of bandleading, assembling ad-hoc ensembles on the ship for various passenger and crew functions. Serious playing work followed on the return to Blighty, as the award winning Sax Quartet Itchy Fingers had a job going on Alto Sax. Pete passed the audition, and toured Brazil, Venezuela, North Africa, Russia and Europe during his three year stay there, working with, amongst others, Dizzy Gillespie, John Scofield, Chick Corea and Supersax.

Due to an inspired bit of orchestral management by “a friend”, The bulk of Pete’s work for the next six years was in and around the West End theatres, where his versatility on many different woodwind instruments stood him in good stead, most notably on the notorious Clarinet solo in the closing sequences of the hit show Oliver. In recent years, Pete has returned to bandleading at the head of an organisation called the Echoes Of Ellington. This is a 21 piece band which sets out to re-create the Duke Ellington sound by using original manuscripts from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, and has achieved great critical acclaim and commercial success. Recently, Pete’s skills developed as front man for the Echoes Of Ellington have led him to presenting Big Band Special, the weekly magazine show for big band buffs on BBC Radio 2, and talking on the early morning news review on GLR.

Pete was recently involved in live and studio work with Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, the BBC Radio Big Band, arranging for and directing the poll-winning 9;20 De-Luxe. 10-piece swing band and re-creating the music of Dizzy Gillespie in quintet and big band formats. In the course of playing with Jools, Pete has worked with a diversity of popular icons from Vinnie Jones to Lionel Richie and The Blind Boys Of Alabama to Sting. Working with Jools Holland has also enabled Pete to arrange music for Sir Paul McCartney, Chrissie Hinde, Jane Horrocks, Ray Davies and the unique talents of Marianne Faithfull! The famous oboe intro on "Handbags and Gladrags" by the Stereophonics is also Pete’s work, and a recent high was playing solo baritone saxophone in Dr John’s UK band.

In his spare time, he makes Airfix planes in his garden shed and is restoring an old Karmann Ghia.