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Ralph Peterson

GenNext Percussion Scholarship

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Bro. Ralph Peterson Jr., a musical leader of my generation and a mentor, teacher, friend, and example of perseverance to all who knew him. Ralph's presence and impact were larger than life. His good deeds and care for those around him were even greater.

He played every note as if it was his last. Unfortunately for us, the notes have ended.

In honor of Ralph  and his meaningful contributions as person, musician and mentor, Cambridge Jazz Foundation is pleased to announce the "Ralph Peterson GenNext Percussion Scholarship. Named after world renown drummer, educator and recording artist, the Peterson scholarship has been created to assist a Boston based drummer in attending lessons for one year, free of cost, at the Ron Savage Music Academy.


Applicants must live in the metro Boston area, demonstrate financial need and have two years of demonstrated musical development.


If you would like to donate or apply for the scholarship, more details can be found on the Cambridge Jazz Foundation website.

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Ralph Peterson(May 20, 1962-March 1, 2021) 

For more than 35 years, Ralph Peterson was one of the distinctive and recognizable drummers in jazz. Besides his incomparable talent behind the drumkit, which led to collaborations with the likes of Terence Blanchard, Branford Marsalis, David Murray, Roy Hargrove, Michael Brecker, Regina Belle, Betty Carter, Ron Carter, and The Roots in a career that spanned almost 35 years - not to mention being hand-picked by Art Blakey as the second drummer in the legendary bandleader's Jazz Messenger Big Band until Blakey's 1990 passing.

In a varied and prodigious career whose span encompasses nearly four decades, percussionist-composer Ralph Peterson Jr. never stopped expanding horizons for the hard-bop idiom he helped revive. Nor did he shirked from intensifying his formidable artistic resources to connect, urgently and emotionally, with the energies of the present day. He released 2 Big Band CD', a live follow up with his cutting-edge quintet Aggregate Prime, recorded an all-star group called The Messenger Legacy. He took yet another bold step with his Onyx Productions Music Label.

In 2020, released a Messenger Legacy following featuring 17 Jazz Messenger Alumni. His list of students constituted a who's who of today's amazing up and coming drummers like Ari Honig, E.J Strickland, Tyshawn Sorey, Jonathon Blake, Mark Whitfield Jr. Kush Abadey and Justin Faulkner and many more. He also taught non drummers like Sean Jones, Melissa Aldana and The Curtis Brothers.

Ralph Peterson's influence on modern jazz is undeniable and constant, both as an artist and educator.  His last release entitled Onward and Upward was his 25th as a leader, 12th on the Onyx Productions Music Label. He played on more than 150 other CD's as a sideman. He was a full Professor of Percussion at Berklee College of Music. Mr. Peterson was endorsed by: Drums, Meinl Cymbals, Evans Drumheads Vic Firth Stick and Brushes and Cympad Cymbals Protectors.

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