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Peter Lerner

Peter Lerner was born and raised in the multi-cultural, diverse Hyde Park area of Chicago. This is an area rich in musical history: Ahmad Jamal lived across the street and the AACM were only a few blocks away.

His earliest musical influence was his mother, Ruth, who played and sang folk songs for the civil rights movement. By the age of eight, he had composed his first song, and his musical journey began. Lerner credits Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana for inspiring him early on. In high school, Lerner fell in love with jazz after hearing Stanley Turrentine’s “Sugar” on which guitarist George Benson played. Since then, Lerner began listening heavily to and learning from the great jazz masters and has continued to study jazz, composition and improvisation. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Chicago’s American Conservatory of Music, and has been working as a professional musician, composer and recording artist ever since.

It’s Lerner’s multi-faceted talent that makes him in demand: he’s known as “a musical chameleon (METROMIX),” masterful rhythm guitarist, capable of finding and laying down some serious grooves, as well as an expressively virtuosic soloist. Peter possesses a rare blend of technique and heartfelt emotion creating a style all his own. He has recorded numerous television shows and commercials, including the Oprah Winfrey Show. As a versatile guitarist, he performed with Gladys Knight, Funk icon Bootsy Collins, Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band, The Fifth Dimension, and blues harpist Sugar Blue among others. Peter has played on tracks featuring B.B. King, Patti LaBelle, and BB & Cee Cee Wynan. His theater credits include Joseph & the Amezing Technicolor Dreamcoat (starring Donny Osmond, Randy Newman’s Faust, and Jesus Christ Superstar. As a composer, Peter scored a national top 10 hit on adult contemporary radio with his composition “Midway Gardens.” He is also a faculty member at Columbia College of Chicago, where he has taught jazz guitar and improvisation since 1995, raising the next generation of musicians.

As a jazz guitarist, he has performed with such jazz luminaries as Ramsey Lewis and Lee Konitz among many other notable artists, performed at the South Shore Jazz Festival, Sarasota Jazz Festival, Downbeat Jazz Museum, featured at the Iridium, the Jazz Showcase, the Green Mill, Andy’s Jazz Club, just to name a few. Lerner’s CD Cry for Peace on the Blujazz label, featuring a stellar lineup including Eric Alexander, Victor Lewis, Jim Rotondi, David Hazeltine, Jerry Dodgion, Steve Davis and Ed Howard, hit #25 in the national jazz album chart and has garnered critical acclaim. The recording was made at Van Gelder’s Studio, and the album was produced by Grammy Award winner, Don Sickler.

Lerner’s newest CD Continuation on Origin Records includes his latest compositions and Chicago musicians of the highest caliber: Willie Pickens on piano, Marlene Rosenberg on bass, Charles Heath on drums, Geof Bradfield on reeds, Victor Garcia on flugelhorn, Andy Baker on trombone, Joe Rendon on percussion, and Peter Lerner on guitar. Robert Irving III, who collaborated with Miles Davis for nine years, produced the project. Lerner says, “Continuing to strive to better oneself as a musician and as a human being I believe is the key to creating a living art, and that is my goal.”