It is with great sadness, that we mourn the loss of one of our long-time Artists and friend, Pete La Roca Sims. Pete La Roca (Peter Sims) was born on April 7, 1938 in New York City. An American jazz drummer, he adopted the name La Roca early in his musical career when he was a timbales player in Latin bands.
Between 1957 and 1968 he played with Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean, Slide Hampton, the John Coltrane Quartet, Marian McPartland, Art Farmer, Freddie Hubbard, Mose Allison, Charles Lloyd, Paul Bley, and Steve Kühn, among others. From 1961-1962, he led his own group as well as working at as the house drummer at the Jazz Workshop in Boston, MA.
During this period, he recorded two albums as a band leader; the first “Basra” (Blue Note, 1965) and also “Turkish Women at the Bath” (Douglas, 1967). The second album was also issued as “Bliss” under pianist Chick Corea's name (Muse) and featured Chick Corea and John Gilmore.
Pete’s decision to leave music in 1968 and become an attorney (under his original name of Pete Sims) cut short a productive career. He started playing jazz again in 1979 and had performed on an occasional basis up to the present time. He also recorded one more album as a leader, “Swingtime” on Blue Note, in 1997.
It was in the mid 90’s when Pete visited the Zildjian factory for the last time and picked out a nice set of new cymbals. He also has in his collection, a cymbal he has played all of these years, a 20" A Zildjian Ride from the '50s, pitched in C#, just like Papa Jo Jones’ 18" Medium A Zildjian. Though he didn’t make it back to Norwell, Pete was a regular guest at the Zildjian East Coast Artist Sessions, held each year in NYC.
Chip Stern put it best; “Peter is always in my heart. And to those in the know, remains eternally modern, if perhaps a swinging anachronism in an era of free jazz and fusion, upon whose practitioners he exerted a profound influence. A giant in the pantheon of American rhythm.“
Zildjian Artist, Adam Nussbaum, also commented, “Pete - one of the real greats. An inspiration. Truly appreciated by the cats! He's in a better place. I'm so grateful for my mentors.”
A Celebration of Life Concert will be held in his honor, Friday, December 28th, at 8:00pm, at the Jazz Church in NY (St. Peter's Church, 619 Lexington Avenue, at 54th Street, New York NY 10022, 212 935 2200).