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Peter Landsdowne
Peter Landsdowne

Born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, in the late 1940s, Peter Landsdowne moved with his family to Westborough, Massachusetts, in the early 1950s.

Finding a box of his parents' 78s and seeing musicians like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington on The Ed Sullivan Show and other television programs sparked his interest in jazz. Landsdowne began playing trumpet at the age of 9 and studied with jazz pianist Bill Klemmer, there being no brass teacher in the Westborough school system at the time. Peter played his first gig at the age of 12 -- a duet with music teacher and pianist Arlene Marcy on "Graduation Day" at a Westborough High School graduation reception. "I got five bucks and all the punch I could drink," Peter recalled during a recent interview. Soon afterwards, the Westborough school system hired trumpeter Larry Forand, a veteran of the Ray McKinley big band, as Music Director. Forand oversaw the marching band, the concert band, the chorus, and the stage band, in all of which Peter participated. In his senior year in high school, an injury to his lip caused Landsdowne to switch from trumpet to baritone horn and valve trombone, a move that was facilitated by his private brass teacher, trombonist George Robinson, best known for his stint with Vaughn Monroe.

In 1965, Landsdowne entered the University of Massachusetts in Amherst as a music education major. He played baritone horn in the UMass marching band and concert band and formed an unofficial campus big band with trumpeter Skip Spiro. Peter also played bass in jazz pianist Bob Bowman's trio. "The trio did a gig at Northampton State Hospital," Landsdowne recalled. "The experience motivated me to study psychology."

Landsdowne graduated from Suffolk University in 1970 with a B.A. in psychology and later earned two graduate degrees in counseling psychology from Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts. He was employed in various capacities at Westborough State Hospital until the early 1980s. It was around that time that Peter decided to start a quarterly magazine called The New England Journal of Jazz with his own money. The magazine floundered but allowed Peter to enter the publishing field, including working as a freelance jazz journalist for the Worcester Telegram, a position that he holds to this day. Landsdowne also authored Joy Spring, an unpublished biography of jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown. Now semi-retired and working as a residential counselor for ARBOR Associates, a Boston-based human services agency, Peter continues to write jazz reviews for the Worcester Telegram. "There's still a jazz scene in the city worth writing about,"Ěhe recently noted.