Austin Peralta

Austin Peralta was extraordinary - not only was he a supremely talented musician and composer, an energetic exciting performer, a passionate fan of a all sorts of music, but most of all he was a lovely friendly funny approachable person who had achieved more in his short life than most of us achieve in 70 years.

Austin was born October 25th 1990, son of the world-renowned skateboarder and film director Stacy Peralta, started playing piano age 5, and very quickly turned into a prodigious player. "I became a classical music freak" he says, but went on to cultivate a remarkably diverse and eclectic career stretching from classical to jazz to "electronica" and much more besides. Aged 12 he won the Shelly Manne New Talent Award from the Los Angeles Jazz Society, he studied with Eleanor Lindboe and Sara Banta at Pepperdine University and later with noted jazz musicians Alan Pasqua and Buddy Collette.

Immersed in the Los Angeles music scene, Austin played thousands of gigs, many with his fellow students Steve Bruner (Thundercat), and of course with countless others. He performed all over America, Europe and Japan, recording two albums "as a lead musician" whilst at university, and a third later for Brainfeeder.

“People would always tell me about this genius jazz pianist,” Flying Lotus recalls. “‘He's like 17 or 18 and already sounds like McCoy Tyner!’ I had to go and see what was up, so Dr Strangeloop introduced me, and I got to hear this amazing record [Endless Planets]. We had to put it out.”

Austin's musical achievements are considerable (see below), even bewildering given his age. We can only wonder at what he would have achieved had he lived longer, but we can be very thankful that he gave us as much as he did and rejoice in his positivity in being a musician whilst he was alive.

"There have been countless instances of inspiring musical moments in my life. I couldn’t pick a favorite because they’re all so unique and beautiful. They happen all the time and for that I must say I’m truly blessed." Austin Peralta, May 2011

He died on November 21st 2012 in Los Angeles. Our best wishes go out to his family and friends.


Austin released three albums as "leader": Maiden Voyage (March 2006, Sony Japan/Village Records/88’s, with Ron Carter-bass and Billy Kilson-drums), Mantra (Sony Japan/Village Records/88’s, with Buster Williams-bass, Steve Nelson-vibes, Marcus Strickland-sax, Ronald Bruner Jr.-drums) and Endless Planets (February 2011, Brainfeeder, with Zane Musa-alto sax, Ben Wendel-tenor and soprano saxes, Hamilton Price-bass & Zach Harmon-drums). He released a 12" single in May 2012, Loneliness 2, the original and his new interpretation featuring Earnest BlountStrangeloop and Michael Foster. He recorded a beautiful reinterpretation of "Bedtime Stories" for Amon Tobin's recent boxset release. He also contributed as leader to The Cinematic Orchestra's In Motion compilation on the track "Lapis" - a new soundtrack for the James Whitney film of the same name, recorded live at the Barbican in London, October 1st 2011. It was a piece he wrote in just a couple of days - having prepared a soundtrack to a different film, the permission for which was refused just days before the performance, Austin conjured up a new remarkable composition very quickly as he was so often able to do.

Austin recorded with many musicians as a "sideman" (Austin's word) including on the Flying Lotus album Until The Quiet Comes and his long time collaborator Thundercat's debut album The Golden Age Of Apocalypse, as well as other Brainfeeder label mates Teebs, Strangeloop and Daedelus. He also recorded with Erykah Badu, Shafiq HusaynTim Ries and Adam Rudolph's Go: Organic Orchestra - and performed with dozens more including Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Hank Jones, Dwight Trible, The Cinematic OrchestraSa-Ra Creative Partners, Jaga Jazzist, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Horace Tapscott’s Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra, The Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Sadao Watanabe, John Patitucci, Omar Hakim and Hiromi Uehara. At age 15, Austin was a featured performer at the 2006 Tokyo Jazz Festival, appearing with his own trio. At the 2007 Tokyo Jazz Festival, Peralta was part of a “dream team” piano quartet that included the legendary Chick CoreaHank Jones, and Hiromi Uehara.

Austin contributed to original soundtrack of his father's documentary film Riding Giants (2004) with a piano solo performance, and also featured as a performer and interviewee in director Tao Ruspoli’s film Being In The World (2010) along with musicians Jumaane Smith, Ryan Cross and Tony Austin. And also the soundtrack of Tell Me Cuba (2006) a film directed by Megan Williams.

Read more about Austin on his website.

All Photos credit: Theo Jemison