Peter Hand is a jazz guitarist, composer and arranger who performs in settings ranging from solo to big band. A New York City native, he took classical piano lessons as a child before switching to guitar in his early teens. Growing up in New York in the mid-1960s, Peter was fortunate to hear great music from different genres in venues from Greenwich Village to Broadway to Carnegie Hall. After first becoming aware of blues artists such as Buddy Guy, Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and others, he become especially interested in the blues guitar sounds of B.B. King and Albert King, and worked at developing his own style and sound.

While a pre-med student at Binghamton University, NY, Peter began to lead his own blues band, and during his third year, decided he wanted to pursue music as a career and left school (with no regrets about leaving pre-med!). He started working with his own groups and others in the New York area, including with Jerome Arnold (bassist with Howlin' Wolf and Paul Butterfield). He also began to take interest in the great soul music artists of the day, one of many being James Brown, who at the time was at the peak of his musical career. In addition to the innovations Brown brought to his band’s rhythm sections, Peter was inspired by Brown’s creative horn section arrangements, and by the recordings Brown and other artists made with big bands and string orchestras.

Wanting to learn more about many aspects of music, he took one-year courses in classical counterpoint and harmony at City College of New York, and orchestration and music notation at Manhattan School of Music. As he became more involved in jazz and wanted to have a formal music education, Peter decided to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

At Berklee, Peter became immersed in the music of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Oliver Nelson, Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Charles Mingus, Wes Montgomery and Antonio Carlos Jobim, among many others. His interest in arranging blossomed into jazz composition, and he studied big band arranging and composing with Herb Pomeroy, Larry Monroe and Ted Pease, and classical composition with John Bavicchi and Jeronimas Kacinskas, earning a Bachelor of Music degree in composition in 1977.

After graduating, Peter put together a nine-piece rehearsal band in Boston before moving to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, where he lived for two years. He gained valuable experience working as a solo guitarist and with a variety of jazz, Latin jazz and Caribbean bands. He performed with vocalist Jon Lucien, guitarist Attila Zoller, and legendary saxophonists Frank Vicari and Eddie Shu. During this time, Peter developed a strong interest in Latin and Brazilian music which has influenced many of his original compositions.

Returning to New York in the early 1980s, he became active as a sideman and arranger, and led his own combos and nonet. Peter worked or performed with the George Coleman Octet, Lee Konitz Nonet, Carmen Lundy, Claudio Roditi, Ralph Lalama, Mike Abene, Mike LeDonne, Helio Alves, Santi Debriano, Anthony Cox and Victor Lewis while continuing to write original music.

From 1991 to 1996, Peter was a member of the BMI Advanced Jazz Composers Workshop in New York City, directed by Manny Albam, Bob Brookmeyer and Jim McNeely. The workshop met weekly and presented annual big band concerts of new music. Peter credits the workshop with opening up new ideas for extended jazz composition.

In 2002, after having recently moved to Westchester from Queens, NY, Peter conceived and co-founded the Westchester Jazz Orchestra, a non-profit big band and educational organization featuring many world-class musicians in Westchester County, New York. He served as artistic director, composer-in-residence, arranger and guitarist during the orchestra’s first season (2003-04) and presented a series of theme concerts with special guest artists. In addition, he began to conduct educational workshops at colleges and high schools in NY, CT and MA.

Peter launched his own big band in 2005 and his CD, "The Peter Hand Big Band Featuring Houston Person – The Wizard of Jazz: A Tribute To Harold Arlen" was released on Savant Records in 2009. It showcases tenor saxophone great Houston Person performing Peter’s original arrangements of Arlen songs, and features saxophonists Don Braden and Ralph Lalama, trumpeters Cecil Bridgewater, Valery Ponomarev and Jim Rotondi, trombonist John Mosca, pianist Richard Wyands, bassist Harvie S and drummer Steve Johns, among others.

"The Wizard of Jazz" stayed on the nationwide JazzWeek radio chart of top 50 CDs for twelve weeks, peaking at #19. It made the top 10 in several cities as well, received many excellent reviews, and was named one of the best CDs of 2009 by renowned jazz critic and historian Dan Morgenstern, Downbeat columnist Frank-John Hadley, and jazz radio host Ed Love (“Destination Jazz" - WDET, Detroit).

His second recording, "The Peter Hand Big Band- Out Of Hand" (Savant Records, 2014), featured an outstanding group of musicians playing his original compositions and arrangements. The album received critical acclaim and extensive airplay on radio. It reached #4 on the JazzWeek chart, staying in the Top 10 for eight weeks.

"Out of Hand" made the Downbeat Editors’ Picks (November, 2014), saying: “Peter Hand’s latest album is cause for celebration... When Hand arranges outside material for the band, he masterfully adds a new dimension to it." The album received a 5-star review in Jazz Journal (UK, April 2015), which said: “Peter Hand, a most able guitarist, has put together a splendid 16-piece unit which upholds the spirit and and history of the genre. 'Out Of Hand' fully merits a five-star rating and will be a strong contender for record of the year honours."

Peter’s big band has appeared in concert at Centenary College Jazz-in-July series (NJ) and at Zinc Bar jazz club in NYC, featuring guest saxophonist Camille Thurman and trumpeter Duane Eubanks. In a special event in 2017, he was invited as a guest artist to return to Binghamton University, NY (where as a teenage student he first led his own groups and had made the decision to become a musician), for three days of concerts and workshops with the Binghamton University Big Band and Jazz Faculty Sextet. Peter extended the invitation to saxophonist Don Braden to join him, and under the direction of Mike Carbone, Director of Jazz Studies, they performed with the big band, playing their original arrangements to a nearly sold-out audience at the 1,200 seat Osterhout Theater.

Some of Peter’s other noteworthy credits include recording at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio on saxophonist Jeff Hackworth’s CD, "How Little We Know" (Big Bridge Music, 2006), with his guitar work singled out favorably in numerous reviews; his composition “Brazilian Emerald" was recorded by Houston Person on the album "Thinking of You" (HighNote Records, 2007); and he was commissioned to write new arrangements of music by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn for Person’s guest appearance with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in 2008. His arrangements have also been performed by the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, Central New York Jazz Orchestra and the Munich Modern Jazz Orchestra.

"Hand Painted Dream", the 3rd album by the Peter Hand Big Band on Savant Records, was released in September, 2019 to excellent reviews and international radio airplay. It includes Peter’s new arrangements of music by Charlie Parker, Tadd Dameron, Randy Weston and John Coltrane, plus his original compositions. The album features Downbeat  "rising star" vocalist and saxophonist Camille Thurman as a special guest, and a string quartet led by violinist Jennifer Choi joins the big band in Peter’s original jazz composition for the album’s title track.