Peter Herbolzheimer was born on December 31, 1935 in Bucharest, Romania and migrated from communist Romania to West Germany in 1951.Two years later he moved to the United States, settling in Michigan and enrolled in Highland Park High School in the graduating class of 1954. There, he was a staple in the musical choral groups and orchestra, and accompanied several groups on guitar who often performed for various organisations and corporate functions around the Detroit area.
Returning to Germany in 1957 he took up the valve trombone, playing in numerous jazz cellar open mic groups. Peter attempted to return to Michigan, but his visa was denied, so for one year he studied at the Nuremberg Conservatory. In the Sixties he played with the Nuremberg radio dance orchestra and with Bert Kämpfert’s orchestra. He went on to play in the pit orchestra of Hamburg theater, then formed his Rhythm Combination and Brass for which he wrote most of the arrangements.
This big band had an international lineup of eight brass with saxophonist Herb Geller, Allan Botschinsky, Art Farmer, Dusko Goykovich, Palle Mikkelborg, Ack van Rooyen and Jiggs Whigham. The rhythm section had Dieter Reith, Philip Catherine, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Bo Stief, Alex Riel, Grady Tate, and Nippy Noya. In the late 1970s the band toured successfully with a “jazz gala” program featuring guest stars such as Esther Phillips, Stan Getz, Nat Adderley, Gerry Mulligan, Toots Thielemans, Clark Terry, Albert Mangelsdorff, Dianne Reeves and Chaka Khan.
The Seventies and Eighties had Herbolzheimer writing music for the opening of the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, won the International Jazz Composers Competition 1974 in Monaco and was the arranger and conductor and led his orchestra for virtually every major German television network and accompanied visiting American musicians such as Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dizzy Gillespie and Al Jarreau.
Between 1987 and 2006 he was the musical director of Germany’s national youth jazz orchestra, the Bundes Jazz Orchester, conducted regular workshops and clinics for big band jazz and was chosen as the music director, arranger and conductor of the European Jazz Band, which toured throughout Europe until 2009. Trombonist and bandleader Peter Herbolzheimer passed away at age 74 in Cologne, Germany on March 27, 2010.
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