The critical mind that believes an instrumentalist would have to first be a pianist before being able to properly accompany one would certainly embrace the career of Beverly Peer. Whilst embracing, it should be pointed out that this is an example of the masculine use of the first name Beverly, a somewhat rare occurence that hopefully won't bring to mind the unsavory twin gynecologists portrayed in the David Cronenberg film Dead Ringers--although in the case of this biography it is now too late to avoid this reference. The musician Beverly Peer had a slight film career of his own near the end of his career, making cameo appearances in Hannah and Her Sisters and For Love or Money. By this time he was into his third decade backing up pianist and singer Bobby Short at the Cafe Carlyle in New York City.
As indicated, Peer began his musical career as a pianist, working steadily but apparently not garnering much in the way of notoriety until the switch to bass. In 1936 he began working as a bassist with the Chick Webb; three years later, when this leader died, the band continued on as a backing unit for singer Ella Fitzgerald. Working with singers was another of the bassist's talents and he would go on to perform with top vocalists such as Sarah Vaughn, Lena Horne, Johnny Mathis and Barbra Streisand. When Fitzgerald's use of the former Webb outfit diminished in 1942, Peer joined up with bandleader Sabby Lewis. In the '50s and '60s he worked with a series of fine pianists, some of them also singers, including Barbara Carroll and Ellis Larkins. Peer's long relationship with Short began in the '70s, attracting the attention of the latter artist's best-known fans such as comedian and filmmaker Woody Allen.