Peter grew up first in Ohio, then in Oakland, California, studying classical piano, then turning to jazz while in high school. Following graduation from U.C. Berkeley, Peter played clubs, concerts and festivals in the San Francisco Bay Area with such artists as Frank Morgan and John Handy.
Since relocating to the East Coast, Peter has come to be recognized as one of the finest emerging pianists on the highly competitive New York jazz scene. He has performed and/or recorded with Junior Cook, George Coleman, Jimmy Cobb, Billy Hart, Ryan Kisor, Etta Jones, Scott Hamilton, Al Foster, Eric Alexander, Walt Weiskopf, and Jon Hendricks, among many others. Since 1995, Peter has also been on the faculty of the New School University Jazz department.
Peter has recorded several highly acclaimed CD's as a leader for the SteepleChase record label, including The Peter Zak Trio, featuring Al Foster, drums, and Paul Gill, bass (2005); For Tomorrow, featuring Paul Gill and drummer Willie Jones III (2006); My Conception, a solo piano recording, (2007); Seed Of Sin, featuring Paul Gill and drummer Quincy Davis (2008), and others. His release, Down East (2011), garnered a feature article in DownBeat Magazine in September of that year, and his brand new recording The Eternal Triangle has started to received early acclaim. Peter continues to record as a sideman as well, including recent outings with saxophonist Walt Weiskopf and guitarist Tom Guarna, trombonist Vincent Gardner, and saxophonist Stephen Riley.
In 2005, Peter achieved recognition as a composer, receiving a $10,000 grant from the Doris Duke Foundation and Chamber Music America to compose and perform a new work for his jazz trio, which included bassist Paul Gill, and drummer Al Foster. He continues to work both as a sideman and bandleader, currently leading his trio in venues in New York, around the U.S. and overseas, including recent performances in Oslo and Paris.