Recognized as one of Hawaii’s most versatile musicians, Jeff Peterson is at the heart of the Hawaiian music scene today. His passion for the guitar has allowed him to shine as a solo artist and has given him the opportunity to collaborate with a wide variety of artists from Hawaii, across the US, and abroad.
His focus on Slack Key guitar, classical, and jazz music has allowed him to develop a unique and transcendent voice on the guitar while being deeply rooted in the traditions of his Hawaiian heritage.
Born on the Island of Maui, Jeff Peterson grew up on the slopes of Haleakala where he was introduced to the rich heritage of Hawaiian music by his father, a paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboy, on the Haleakala Ranch. The music that he heard from his father and other paniolos as well as the slack key on classic recordings by the Gabby Pahinui Band, Leonard Kwan, and Sonny Chillingworth made a deep and lasting impression on him that he continues to draw inspiration from today. As he began studying the guitar on his own, his interests broadened and he delved into a wide variety of musical genres that the guitar plays a part in. To explore these interests further, he went on to study jazz and classical guitar at the University of Southern California and at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He has studied privately with a wide variety of artists including celebrated classical guitarist Benjamin Verdery, slack key guitarist Ozzie Kotani, as well as a number of jazz guitarists including Joe Diorio, Larry Koonse, and Frank Vignola. He has participated in the island-wide Annual Slack Key Guitar Festivals over the past five years with many other slack key artists including Raymond Kane, Keola Beamer, and Cyril Pahinui. As a performer, Jeff has had the honor to work with a wide range of artists and groups including Eric Clapton, slack key guitarist Ledward Kaapana, James Galway, Michael Feinstein, the Honolulu Symphony, Hawaii Opera Theatre, jazz bassist Rufus Reid, shakuhachi master Riley Lee, soprano Dana Hanchard, and with many other artists in the fields of Hawaiian, classical, and jazz music. He has three recordings on Hula Records International with Riley Lee: “Maui Morning”(CDHRI-1013), “Bamboo Slack Key”(CDHRI-1014), and “Haiku”(CDHRI-1019). He also released an acclaimed solo guitar recording featuring his slack key artistry, “Kahealani”(CDHRI-1023). Wayne Harada from the Honolulu Advertiser reacted to hearing the CD by writing: “Add the Peterson name to the top 10 list of slack key giants”.
He has traveled to Europe, Australia, New York, Maryland, Florida, and across the West Coast to perform at a variety of venues from Symphony Space in New York City to the National Folk Festival in Canberra, Australia. He was recently featured at the First World Guitar Congress in Maryland where he performed Hawaiian slack key guitar as well as classical music in master classes by classical guitarists David Russell and Dusan Bogdanovic. He performs regularly at Michel’s Restaurant in the Colony Surf Hotel in Waikiki in addition to a variety of other venues throughout Hawaii and abroad in both solo and group settings. In addition to performing, he also teaches the guitar at the University of Hawaii. Recently, he achieved a milestone in Hawaiian music at the 47th Annual Grammy Awards on February 13th, 2005, when a recording on Palm Records featuring Jeff and other island artists, “Slack Key Guitar, Volume 2”, won the first ever Grammy Award for best Hawaiian recording.