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Pete Souders of Ortlieb's Jazzhaus: How He Made His First Recording

Updated on May 2, 2014
Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Music permeates Maren's soul, whether performing (voice, piano, drum, guitar, clarinet) or acting as a crazily enthusiastic audience member.

Pete Souders
Pete Souders | Source

Pete's Hard Bop CD

A Mission from God to Promote Jazz

Elwood and Jake Blues knew they had “a mission from God” to earn money to keep their childhood orphanage open. God thrust Jesus Christ in a situation in which he was compelled to learn carpentry. Along the same lines, Pete Souders, former computer-geek, in my estimation, had a mission from God to make music. Specifically, hard bop jazz.

Pete did this in two ways: the first was to sink everything he owned and every talent he possessed into the Camelot of jazz players on the east coast: Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus. That story is well known. What is less well-known is Pete’s profound craving to play tenor sax as well as he can.

Pete is a Tenor Sax Player

Once the day-to-day running of Ortlieb’s was in his past, Pete worked on his health. One could call it “learning to breathe again.” He isn’t the kind of guy to wear his heart on his sleeve or to invoke sympathy for himself, so most of the jazz community didn’t know how much of a toll running that great joint in Northern Liberties exacted from him. Pete had a few specific health challenges to “correct" and then created a healthier life.

One thing he deeply regretted while running Ortlieb’s was how little time he had to practice his sax. It was hit or miss, and he knew that what time he could devote was not worthy of the finest music he knows. Now, with interview factoids (Pete loves facts) sloshing around in his brain about how many hours a day the Hawk and Coltrane practiced, Pete gets more quality and quantity in his daily practicing in his basement studio.

Pete Souders at La Rose in Germantown

Jammin' on a Monday night at La Rose.
Jammin' on a Monday night at La Rose. | Source

Fellow Music Folks Nudge Pete

Pete admits that thankfully he is much more conversant and has a greater vocabulary than when he ran Ortlieb’s. Friends started suggesting that maybe it was time for the great encourager and supporter of Philly jazz cats to cut a recording of his own. As usual, the modest Pete demurred. We know jazz cats do their composing on stage in response to the moment. So, one friend hit him with “I don’t want you to die with your music inside you,” it was on.

Pete Playing at Ortlieb's Jazzhaus

This is a Shirley Scott tribute performance.
This is a Shirley Scott tribute performance. | Source


The steps that other musicians take in the younger years were brand new to Pete: choosing a studio, learning what the dickens mixing and mastering are, and deciding when, how and where to promote his cd (again, for humble Pete, promoting is tough.) From start until finish it was an eight- month journey. The result is “Echoes of Ortlieb’s,” a succulent selection of standards with three different ensembles joining Pete.

More promotion work lies ahead. Pete hopes the recording does well and shows his comrades how much he’s worked at improving, yet at the same time would be quite happy if he could devote his time to practicing, playing, jamming, and watching the Phillies. Pete had a release party in his home town of Reading, PA at Veasley’s Jazz Base in the Crowne Plaza Hotel and in Lancaster at the Belvedere. But, anyone can check his music out at

Pete Souders & Harold Betters Jam Together

Pete Souders and the Incredible Harold Betters jam at Penn State Berks Campus- Wow!
Pete Souders and the Incredible Harold Betters jam at Penn State Berks Campus- Wow! | Source

Photos and text copyright 2011 Maren Morgan, all rights reserved.

Music from one of Ortlieb's' Finest: Shirley Scott


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