About Peter Lavezzoli
Born in South Florida, Pete “Chef” Lavezzoli has a style of combining old-school rock and R&B backbeat with a progressive rock and jazz edge. He has been the drummer for Melvin Seals & the Jerry Garcia Band; performed with Phil Lesh & Friends including with John Mayer; singer-songwriter Peter Rowan; jazz guitarist Randy Bernsen; jazz and rock guitarist Bobby Lee Rodgers (Code Talkers, Colonel Bruce Hampton); and blues guitarist Albert Castiglia (Junior Wells, Sandra Hall), among others.
Peter shared his recording talents on the drumkit with Donna Jean Godchaux in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, at the Nutthouse Recording Studio on Godchaux’s Back Around. In Miami, Lavezzoli recorded at George Noriega’s Cutting Cane Studios on Bobby Lee Rodgers’ album BLR. In the words of Grammy-winning producer/composer George Noriega: “I had the pleasure of having Peter Lavezzoli record at Cutting Cane Studios, and felt his unbelievable pocket first hand. Peter has that rare combination of skill, feel, and sensitivity. His playing is always just what is called for by the singer, the song, and the groove. Not too hot, not too cold. Pete’s drumming is just right.”
In 1990, Lavezzoli co-founded Florida’s Grateful Dead tribute band Crazy Fingers, where he continues as both drummer and lead vocalist for the band. For 30 years, Crazy Fingers has performed at venues and festivals sharing the stage with acts ranging from The Band to Little Feat, the Radiators, Jefferson Starship, and Ziggy Marley.
And on February 25, 2020, Crazy Fingers were honored to perform with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at the historic Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo NY, for a special concert with the orchestra conducted by Bradley Thachuk, playing Grateful Dead classics arranged by Steven Thachuk.
Additionally, Lavezzoli is a respected music historian and award-winning author with two books to date, both published by Bloomsbury Books of New York & London. The King of All, Sir Duke (2001) explores the legacy of Duke Ellington in modern jazz, rock, and R&B music. The Dawn of Indian Music in the West (2006) (with a Foreword by Ravi Shankar) tells the story of Shankar and Indian music’s pivotal impact on rock and jazz (including interviews with Shankar, Zakir Hussain, John McLaughlin, Mickey Hart, Philip Glass, and others). This book won the ARSC (Association of Recorded Sound) award in 2007 for Best Historical Research, and was published in India by HarperCollins in 2009 as Bhairavi: The Global Impact of Indian Music.
Always the student himself, Lavezzoli has made numerous trips to India, where he studied Indian rhythm with Tanmoy Bose, tabla player for Ravi Shankar. He has played drumset in Tanmoy’s Indo-jazz group Taal Tantra, both on Indian TV and in music festivals throughout India. Lavezzoli has also studied Indian classical vocal with Uma Lacombe, a teacher and disciple of the Dagar family of singers, and applies some of the unique qualities of Indian classical singing to his work as a vocalist.
Sharing his talents with the community, Lavezzoli has utilized his reading voice in voluntary service to the Blind since 2003. He is a narrator for the US Library of Congress, recording books on tape for the visually impaired with the Library’s Talking Books program at Insight For the Blind. Lavezzoli has often donated his time and music collection to Miami’s jazz stations WLRN and WDNA, hosting special programs on legendary jazz artists from Duke Ellington and Miles Davis to John Coltrane and Sun Ra.
Staying active in education, Lavezzoli is a faculty instructor and show director for the School of Rock.