RICH WILLEY: trumpeter, bass trumpeter, bandleader. As both a player and composer/arranger, Rich Willey is firmly rooted in the jazz tradition. His trumpet playing draws upon the wellspring of bebop with a contemporary freshness; brash and forceful, but also lyrical and warm. His compositions and arrangements are thoughtful and substantial, combining a solid sense of swing with an overriding concern for melody. Rich’s playing took on an even broader range of colors when he became one of only a select few jazz trumpeters to add the bass trumpet — a unique instrument with the range of a trombone but the bright timbre of a trumpet — to his musical palette.
A Florida native, Rich was active on the Philadelphia and New York scenes from the early 1980s to the mid-90s, handling a wide range of Latin and jazz gigs, most notably backing up and recording with legendary vocalist Mel Tormé. He later returned to Florida where he earned a bachelors degree in music education from the University of South Florida, founded the Gulf Coast Jazz Society in Dunedin, and performed regularly in the Greater Tampa Bay area. Rich returned to NYC in 1999, earning his masters degree in jazz performance/trumpet at the renowned Manhattan School of Music where he studied with Byron Stripling, Garry Dial, and Mike Abene. He spent the fall of 2001 on tour playing second trumpet, the challenging jazz chair, with trumpet giant Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau. After that he toured for several years with the Tommy Dorsey orchestra under the direction of Buddy Morrow playing the second trumpet (jazz) chair.
Rich has released three CDs, among them Gone With the Piggies (CAP records), a striking collection of brilliantly conceived and impeccably performed tracks, including four of his own distinctive compositions. He is the owner of Boptism Music, which offers an impressive array of his over 30 books including jazz duets, jazz etudes, jazz improv development books, trumpet and trombone method books, as well as his jazz combo and big band arrangements. He is a devoted student of the late Dr. Donald S. Reinhardt and has put back into print many of Reinhardt’s original method books.
Rich has performed with many great musicians, including Maynard Ferguson, Lionel Hampton, Hank Mobley, Don Patterson, Buddy Morrow, Bob Haggart, Dick Hyman, Claudio Roditi, Chris Potter, Conrad Herwig, John Swana, Kenny Drew Jr., Mel Tormé, Bobby Sanabria, Jack Jones, Shirley Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Tony Randall, Bobby Floyd and many others.
Rich has been leading bands since 1986. He and his wife Janet live just outside of beautiful Asheville, NC, where he now practices trumpet and bass trumpet incessantly, still writes and arranges music and performs regularly throughout the southeast as a freelance musician, bandleader and clinician.
Rich has finally had several of his original tunes expertly scored for 18-piece big band by arrangers Michael Abene, Gordon Goodwin, Wally Minko and Chris Walden. Producer Dan Fornero assembled an all-star big band and Rich had twelve magnificent arrangements recorded by award-winning engineer Tommy Vicari at Conway Studio in Hollywood, CA. The material covers a wide landscape of musical territory: you’ll hear jazz, funk, Latin, baroque, reggae all the way to rock with masterful solos by some of the best musicians in Los Angeles (which translates to some of the best musicians in the world). This 77-minute CD takes you on a versatile and fascinating tour around the musical world. When you come in for a landing afterward you’ll agree that it was a journey well worth your while.
PLAYERS AND INSTRUMENTS:
Rich Willey (trumpet, flugelhorn & bass trumpet)
Saxophones: Dan Higgins, Brian Scanlon, Bob Sheppard, Jeff Driskill/Sal Lozano, Jay Mason
Trumpets: Wayne Bergeron, Dan Fornero, Rob Schaer/Mike Rocha, Tony Bonsera
Trombones: Alex Iles, Andy Martin, Steve Holtman, Bill Reichenbach
Rhythm Section: Wally Minko (keyboards), Andrew Synowiec (guitars), Edwin Livingston (bass),
Peter Erskine (drums), Joey De Leon (percussion)
Very special guest Thomas Hooten on piccolo trumpet (Down & Dirty)
TRACKS AND TIMES:
1. Boogie Beast (arr. by Gordon Goodwin) 6:29
2. Down & Dirty (arr. by Wally Minko) 7:01
3. Walter The Ferret (arr. by Gordon Goodwin) 6:10
4. Eyes All For You (arr. by Chris Walden) 6:13
5. Dancing Hippo (arr. by Gordon Goodwin) 6:18
6. Ed Zachary Meets Gregory Peccary (arr. by Gordon Goodwin) 5:46
7. How ‘Bout That? (arr. by Wally Minko) 6:50
8. Old Folks (by Willard Robison & Dedette Lee Hill, arr. by Michael Abene) 7:10
9. Little Treasures (arr. by Wally Minko) 6:05
10. Not So Fast! (arr. by Gordon Goodwin) 7:23
11. Funk Heap (arr. Wally Minko) 6:19
12. But For The Grace Of God (arr. by Michael Abene) 6:03