He lists among his influences figures as diverse as blues guitarist B. B. King and Czech classical composer Leos Janacek, and the authors of Jazz: The Essential Companion observe that “his concept seems to embrace the entire jazz tradition from New Orleans to Coltrane.” Hannibal Peterson has been among the most musically wide-ranging, omnivorous, and ambitious figures spawned by the experimental movement in jazz of the 1970s. A trumpeter and composer, he has continued to try new forms and broaden his musical horizons even as other jazz musicians have retrenched into established styles
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Hannibal Peterson was born Marvin Peterson in the small central Texas town of Smithville on November 11, 1948. Musical education came Marvin Peterson’s way from several directions. First there was his mother, whom he described as a pianist of, according to the Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Seventies, “the Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines school.” His mother gave him a trumpet and set him on a lifelong journey exploring the possibilities of that instrument. Later in his youth his family lived in Texas City, on the Gulf Coast, where he played in a high school band and briefly organized his own group, the Soul Masters. He also studied musical theory and harmony during his school years, an opportunity afforded few American youngsters of any background.