Rich Willey

As both a player and composer, Rich Willey is firmly rooted in the jazz tradition. His trumpet and bass trumpet playing draw 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, yet always accessible and listenable, combining a solid sense of swing with an overriding concern for melody.

Rich was active on the New York scene in the 1980s to the mid 1990s, handling a wide range of Latin and jazz gigs, most notably backing up legendary vocalist Mel Tormé. He is the author of I’d Rather Be Boppin’ -- 24 Jazz Duets, Volumes 1, 2 & 3 (Boptism Music Publishing), Home Cookin’ Fer Young ‘Uns -- 24 Dixie Jazz Duets, and The Melody Lingers On -- 24 Melodic Jazz Solos, companion to Vol.1 of his bop duets (Boptism Music Publishing).

Rich has a B.A. in music education from the University of South Florida. He finished his M.M. in jazz performance in 2001 at the renowned Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Byron Stripling and Mike Abene. Rich spent the fall of 2001 on tour playing second trumpet -- the challenging “jazz chair” -- with trumpet legend Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau.

Also in 2001, Rich and his quintet recorded Gone With the Piggies (Consolidated Artists Productions CAP962), a striking collection of brilliantly conceived and impeccably performed tracks, including four of his own distinctive compositions. 2001 also saw the formation of the partnership between Rich Willey and Bob Bernotas and their new company, Boptism Music Publishing.

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“Rich Willey is an inspiration. His lines bubble . . . his sound is smooth to the touch. Rich had me popping my fingers and begging for more!” -- BYRON STRIPLING, recording and performing artist, former lead trumpeter and soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra

“Rich Willey’s trumpet playing and his use of bass trumpet is especially refreshing. A no-nonsense player.” -- MICHAEL ABENE, jazz pianist, arranger, composer, faculty member at Manhattan School of Music, NYC

“Rich’s arrangements are thoughtful and swinging. His bass trumpet sound and style really knocks me out.” -- TED ROSENTHAL, jazz pianist, clinician, faculty member at The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music

“Rich is not only a prodigious trumpet talent but also a remarkable composer and arranger.” -- RICK SIMERLY, Conn/Selmer artist, Jamey Aebersold clinician

“I'll take a couple moments to talk about Rich Willey

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Primary Instrument

Trumpet

Willing to teach

Intermediate to advanced

Credentials/Background

Education:

1999–2001: Manhattan School of Music, Masters degree in Jazz Performance/Trumpet, May 2001, 3.84 GPA

1996–99: University of South Florida; graduated cum distinction from College of Fine Arts, May ‘99, 3.74 GPA, B.A. in Music Ed

1995–96: St. Petersburg Junior College, Associate of Arts Degree

1989–90: BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, studied with Bob Brookmeyer and Manny Albam

1979: Jamey Aebersold Winter Jazz Clinic in Dallas, TX, studied with David Baker, Jack Petersen

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Photos (4) Slideshow

Discography

Down & Dirty

Down & Dirty

Wise Cat Records
2019

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The Rich Willey Quintet -- Gone With The Piggies

The Rich Willey...

Consolidated Artists Productions
2002

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