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Jazz Station Runaway

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Album Review

Jerome Richardson, a valuable reed player since the mid-'50s, has been on a countless number of recordings, often in an anonymous or barely featured role. He has led very few record sessions of his own throughout his career, yet has long been a talented soloist on alto, tenor, flute, and soprano. In 1996, when he had the opportunity to lead a date, Richardson made the most of the opportunity. Although the music is mostly straightforward, no-nonsense bebop, eight of the numbers are Richardson's; the others are Dizzy Reece's midtempo blues "Con Man" and a pair of Duke Ellington ballads ("Warm Valley" and "In a Sentimental Mood"). Of the originals, only "Groove Merchant" (easily Richardson's best-known song) has been around a while. The newly composed pieces each have catchy and hummable melodies, along with viable chord changes. Pianist David Hazeltine, who sometimes plays in more modern settings, comes across here as a classic bebop player in the style of Barry Harris. The rhythm section includes bassist George Mraz and either Lewis Nash or Dennis Mackrel on drums; they swing supportively under the occasional solos from either Russell Malone or Howard Alden on guitar. Richardson is mostly heard on alto but also playing a bit of soprano and flute; whether jamming bop, putting plenty of warmth into "Warm Valley," or interacting with the rhythm section, he has rarely sounded better.


Born: 15 November 1920 in Oakland, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Jerome Richardson was always a talented jazz improviser coming out of the bop tradition, displaying individuality on each of his reeds. But because he spent most of his career as a studio musician, he often maintained a low profile in the jazz world. Richardson started on alto when he was eight, was playing in public by the time he was 14, and later attended San Francisco State College. The years 1942-1945 were spent in the military, often working in a dance band led by Marshall Royal. He picked...
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