A life long Minnesotan whose sound has always focused on a characteristically "Minneapolis" sound,
Ricky Peterson is best known for his now 20 year association with saxophone legend David Sanborn and for having, produced, written and played keyboards for Prince on and off since his early days on the Twin Cities scene (perhaps most notably producing and arranging the song "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World"). Playing on David Sanborn records since the mid 80's, he ensembled with and produced Sanborn on "Songs from the Night Before" and Prince on "Gold", "Emancipation", "Crystal Ball". Peterson also played a big part in writing and producing George Benson's "That's Right" CD.
This is just the icing on a career whose associations (either live or in the studio) read like a diverse pop and jazz trivia encyclopedia: Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Billy Joel, Anita Baker, James Taylor, Mavis Staples, Joe Sample, Sting, Sergio Mendes, Brian Wilson, Ben Sidran, Rodger Waters, Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Phil Upchurch, Jimmy Buffet, Fine Young Cannibals, Steve Miller Band, GoGos, Paula Abdul, Boz Scaggs, Dave Koz, Lalah Hathaway, Sheryl Crow, Jonathon Butler, Bruce Willis, The Jets, Jermaine Jackson, Rhythm Syndicate, Chaka Khan, Robben Ford, Howard Hewett, Larry Graham, Tuck & Patti and John Mayer.
Recording and touring over the years alongside everyone from Prince and David Sanborn to Bonnie Raitt and George Benson, Ricky Peterson learned more than a few things about what it takes to step into the spotlight and be a successful solo artist. Ricky started his solo career with his first album "Night Watch" with Tommy LiPuma at Warner Brothers in '89 . He then went on to create more music on the Go Jazz Label with the critically acclaimed "Smile Blue" and "A Tear Can Tell" in '92 and '96. He was first introduced to Windham Hill Jazz fans in '98 with single song contributions to popular television shows as well as the Midnight Groove sampler in 1998.
While Peterson's tunes on those compilations displayed the gentler, more reflective side of his artistry, he adds to the palette on his new music with hard-hitting, edgy tunes that recall his upbringing as a fan of R&B/funk, progressive rock, jazz and blues. "I pride myself on musicality in everything, and I'm most challenged by intricate chord changes-- even on the simplest tune." He adds "I also work on arrangements so that unexpected segments are a given. It's fun starting out in one place, then taking the song in a new and exciting direction. And for God's sake, it's got to be funky! To me, maintaining the passion for music and expressing my emotions as honestly as possible is what it's all about."
Having amassed one of contemporary music's most star-studded resumes; Peterson always carefully picks and chooses the colleagues he feels are most appropriate to the spirit of the project. Along with family members Jeanne (Mom on Piano), Patty and Linda (vocals), Paul Peterson (bass, guitar), Billy Peterson (bass), and nephew Jason Peterson DeLaire the Minneapolis based keyboardist plays with an exciting cross section of his favorite Los Angeles and New York based jazz/R&B friends: guitarists Robben Ford, Paul Jackson, Jr. and Hiram Bullock; bassists John Pattatuci and Will Lee; saxmen Dick Oatts, Bob Malach, Brandon Fields, David Sanborn; and drummers Vinnie Colaiuta, Charlie Drayton, Michael Bland, Steve Jordan, Gene Lake and Joey Finger.
Ricky is now working on his 5th solo CD that will be available within the next 6 months. He's promising the same musicality and funkiness that has been a mainstay in his previous CDs.
Friend and colleague Ben Sidran put it best when he said of Peterson: "There are two kinds of genius, the kind that is, as the saying goes, 90 percent perspiration, 10 percent inspiration, and the other kind. Ricky Peterson is clearly the other kind, a born singer with a great range, a gifted keyboard player with his own sense of style and literally, a musical force of nature. It's all music to him. He's not a rock player trying to learn jazz or a jazz player trying to do rock...He's able to go into the memory bank and constantly come up with new sounds."
No matter whom he plays with, Peterson brings elements of his trademark sensibilities to each and every project he contributes to. As he says, "Whether I'm working with Prince or George Benson, I bring everything I am to the studio and give them my all. I try to approach everything in a unique way-- from compositions to arrangements; I make my harmonization skills very adaptable. Just as in my own music on my CD's, I try to bring a lot of diverse elements to the party."