Percussive Arts Society

In Memoriam: Pete Magadini

Drummer, educator, and author Peter Magadini died on August 13, 2023.

Magadini was widely known for his interest and expertise in polyrhythms as applied in western music and drumset. He published two major works on the subject: Polyrhythms for the Drumset and Polyrhythms: The Musicians Guide (first published in two volumes in 1967), which Modern Drummer magazine ranked sixth in their survey of “The 25 Best Drum Books.” In 2012 he published The Official 26 Polyrhythm Rudiments.

Pete was born January 25, 1942 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. When he was six, his family moved to Palm Springs, California, where he played in the elementary school band, and he then attended high school in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1960 Magadini studied drumset with Roy Burns at the Henry Adler Drum School in New York City. He studied timpani with Roland Kohloff at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1965. During his time in San Francisco he formed a trio with keyboardist George Duke and performed with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra.

In 1968, Magadini was awarded a fellowship to perform with The Berkshire Music Festival Orchestra at Tanglewood. The next year he taught drums at the Professional Drum Shop in Los Angeles and played with the Don Menza quartet. Magadini toured with Bobbie Gentry through 1969 before joining Diana Ross’s band. After touring with Ross from 1970 to 1971, he attended the University of Toronto, receiving a Master of Music degree in 1973.

In 1976 he produced the recording Polyrhthym, featuring George Duke, Don Menza, and Dave Young. His second album, Bones Blues, received a Juno Award nomination for Best Jazz Album of the Year in 1979. Magadini performed with and produced recordings for blues-jazz vocalist Mose Allison, and he also played with Al Jarreau, Buddy DeFranco, and John Handy, and was the drummer for the Montreal run of Les Miserables.

From 1988 to 1997, he taught at McGill University and Concordia University in Montreal, and at the Brubeck Institute of the University of the Pacific from 2003 to 2007. He also maintained a private teaching practice in the California Bay Area.

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