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Pete La Roca

Pete La Roca

American drummer
The basics
Occupations Jazz musician Lawyer
Countries United States of America
Gender male
Birth April 7, 1938 (New York City)
Death November 19, 2012
Authority Discogs id ISNI id Library of congress id Musicbrainz id VIAF id
The details

Pete La Roca (born Peter Sims; April 7, 1938 – November 20, 2012) was an American jazz drummer. Born and raised in Harlem by a pianist mother and a stepfather who played trumpet, he was introduced to jazz by his uncle Kenneth Bright, a major shareholder in Circle Records and the manager of rehearsal spaces above the Lafayette Theater. Sims learned percussion in Public School, at the High School of Music and Art, and at the City College of New York, where he played tympani in the CCNY Orchestra. He adopted the name La Roca early in his musical career when he played timbales for six years in Latin bands.
In 1957 Max Roach became aware of him while jamming at Birdland and recommended him to Sonny Rollins. As drummer of Rollins' trio on the afternoon set at the Village Vanguard on November 3 he became part of the important record A Night at the Village Vanguard (Originally only two of five recorded tracks with La Roca found their way on the album). In 1959 he recorded with Jackie McLean (New Soil) and in a quartet with Tony Scott, Bill Evans and Jimmy Garrison. Besides Garrison he often joined with bassists who played in the Bill Evans Trio, especially Scott LaFaro and Steve Swallow, and also accompanied pianists like Steve Kuhn, Don Friedman and Paul Bley.
Between the end of the 1950s and 1968 he also played with Slide Hampton, the John Coltrane Quartet, Marian McPartland, Art Farmer, Freddie Hubbard, Mose Allison, Charles Lloyd, among others, as well as leading his own group and working as the house drummer at the Jazz Workshop in Boston, Massachusetts. During this period, he twice recorded as leader, firstly on Basra (Blue Note, 1965) and also on Turkish Women at the Bath (Douglas, 1967), also issued as Bliss under pianist Chick Corea's name on Muse.
In 1968 he stopped taking side-man gigs, and only accepted work as a band leader/drummer. La Roca began earning a living by driving a taxi cab in New York City, and later attended law school at New York University. When his second album as leader, Turkish Women at the Bath, was released under Chick Corea's name without La Roca's consent, La Roca filed and argued a lawsuit against Douglas Records, and the erroneously-labeled records were recalled.
He returned to jazz in 1979, and recorded one new album as a leader, Swing Time (Blue Note, 1997).


As leader

  • Basra (Blue Note, 1965)
  • Turkish Women at the Bath (Douglas, 1967; also released as Bliss! under Chick Corea's name on Muse, 1973)
  • Swingtime (Blue Note, 1997)

As sideman

With Bill Barron

  • Modern Windows (Savoy, 1962)

With Paul Bley

  • Footloose! (Savoy, 1963)

With Rocky Boyd

  • Ease It (Jazztime, 1961)

With Jaki Byard

  • Hi-Fly (New Jazz, 1962)

With Sonny Clark

  • My Conception (rec. 1957, Blue Note compilation, 1979)
  • Sonny Clark Quintets a.k.a. Cool Struttin' Volume 2 (rec. 1958, Blue Note, 1965)

With Johnny Coles

  • Little Johnny C (Blue Note, 1963)

With Ted Curson

  • Plenty of Horn (Old Town, 1961)

With Art Farmer

  • To Sweden with Love (Atlantic, 1964) with Jim Hall
  • Sing Me Softly of the Blues (Atlantic, 1965)

With the Don Friedman Trio

  • Circle Waltz (Riverside, 1962) with Scott LaFaro
  • Scott LaFaro – Pieces of Jade (rec. 1961, Resonance, 2009)

With Slide Hampton

  • Slide Hampton and His Horn of Plenty (Strand, 1959)
  • Sister Salvation (Atlantic, 1960)
  • Somethin' Sanctified (Atlantic, 1961)

With Joe Henderson

  • Page One (Blue Note, 1963)
  • Our Thing (Blue Note, 1963)

With Freddie Hubbard

  • Blue Spirits (Blue Note, 1964)
  • The Night of the Cookers (Blue Note, 1965)

With the Steve Kuhn Trio

  • 1960 (rec. 1960, PJL (J), 2005) with Scott LaFaro
  • Three Waves (rec. 1966, Flying Dutchman (J), 1975) with Steve Swallow
  • Sing Me Softly of the Blues (Venus, 1997) with George Mraz

With Booker Little

  • Booker Little and Friend (Bethlehem, 1961)

With Charles Lloyd

  • Of Course, of Course (Columbia, 1965)
  • Nirvana (Columbia, 1965)

With Jackie McLean

  • New Soil (Blue Note, 1959)
  • Bluesnik (Blue Note, 1961)

With J.R. Monterose

  • The Message (Jaro, 1960)

With Sonny Rollins

  • A Night at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note, 1957)
  • St Thomas – Sonny Rollins Trio in Stockholm 1959 (Dragon, 1984)

With George Russell

  • The Outer View (Riverside, 1962)

With Tony Scott

  • Gypsy (Signature, 1959)
  • Golden Moments (recorded 1959, Muse, 1982) with Bill Evans and Jimmy Garrison
  • I'll Remember (recorded 1959, Muse, 1982); both Muse LPs reissued on CD as At Last (32 Jazz, 1999)

With the Paul Serrano Quintet

  • Blues Holiday (Riverside, 1961) with Cannonball Adderley a.o.

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