Although much better known as a consummate sideman than a leader, British-born pianist Peter Lemer bridges the gap between jazz and progressive rock, playing and recording extensively in both categories. Born in London in 1942, Lemer studied piano at the Royal Academy of Music, supplementing his classical studies with an immersion in the latest currents in jazz. For a time, he was a student of Paul Bley while the Canadian free jazz pianist was living in London. (Lemer later covered Carla Bley's "Ictus" as a thank you to his former teacher.)
Through the '60s, Lemer was a regular fixture on the new jazz scene in London, appearing in lineups beside giants of British jazz like Elton Dean and Dick Heckstall-Smith while leading his own groups as well. Lemer only recorded one album as a leader, however. Backed with Nisar Ahmad Khan on tenor sax, John Surman on baritone and soprano sax, Tony Reeves on bass, and John Hiseman on drums, Lemer released Local Colour (produced by future Jimi Hendrix collaborator Eddie Kramer) on New York's legendary ESP-Disk label in 1966.
Unlike many jazz folks, however, Lemer slipped easily into the fusion and progressive scenes of the '70s. Adding organ and synthesizer to his arsenal of instruments, Lemer played and recorded with famed progressive rockers like Mike Oldfield (on his QE2 album and tour) and ex-Hatfield and the North/National Health guitarist Phil Miller in addition to his usual slate of jazz gigs. Lemer was also briefly a member of both Gilgamesh and late-'70s fusion crew Pierre Moerlen's Gong. Based in the progressive music center of Canterbury, England, Lemer still performs and occasionally records as a sideman in a variety of styles and lineups.