Rich Laughlin was born on October 21st, 1958 ( sharing a birthday with Dizzy Gillespie)in Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA). His musical odyssey began there, a culturally liberal city where diverse musical styles from classical through jazz,rock and funk coexisted peacefully creating hybrid forms and optimal integration of artists. Early influences in these processes included the iconic trumpeter/composer Don Ellis ( who, like Rich, attended Minneapolis West High School) and the soon to be pop star Prince ( a classmate with whom Rich’screative path briefly intersected). Rich began playing music at age 10, choosing the trumpet two years later as his main instrument. Earnest private study with some of the city’s top local players ( Greg Lewis, Steve Wright and Billy Shiell)provided a solid foundation and a mastery of stylistic expression. At this juncture, Rich began self study in Music Theory and Composition, starting his own jazz-rock group ultimately documenting his first arrangements.
Following a stint in college at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire ( under the tuteledge of renowned trumpet pedagogue Dominic Spera), Rich picked up his first professional gig as trumpet soloist with Lionel Hampton’s former drummer John Stafford and his Big Band. Shortly afterwards in 1978, he joined the 528th U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America, relocating to St. Louis, Missouri. Private study continued with St. Louis trumpet great Bob Ceccarini and the renowned Prof. William Adam at Indiana University. As lead trumpet,soloist and arranger for the Air Force Band, Rich took advantage of an overseas assignment to Europe in 1982, giving concerts throughout the continent from Denmark down through Northern Africa. The ensuing socio-cultural experiences spurred the development of a unique approach toward composing and arranging in hybrid classical-jazz-rock idioms.