Hailed in classical circles as “among the very best trumpet soloists in the world today,” (International Trumpet Guild) and in jazz as “a standout soloist with the power, range and flexibility to rival Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw,” (DownBeat Magazine) Yamaha Performing Artist Rex Richardson was named the 2008 Brass Herald Personality of the Year.
A veteran of the acclaimed chamber ensemble Rhythm & Brass, jazz legend Joe Henderson’s Quintet and Sextet, William Russo’s Chicago Jazz Ensemble, and the Brass Band of Battle Creek, known as the world’s “Rolls Royce of Brass Bands” (Brass Band World), he stays busy as a headline artist at international brass and jazz festivals and as a soloist with orchestras, concert bands, brass bands and jazz ensembles on five continents. These ensembles have ranged from the Phoenix Symphony to the U.S. Army Field Band, and from England’s Fodens Brass Band to the U.S. Air Force’s Airmen of Note Jazz Ensemble.
Born in the Napa Valley area and adopted into a military family, Richardson spent a musical childhood in various far-flung areas of the U.S., including Hawaii, Alaska, New York City, and Boston before settling outside Washington, D.C. It was here that he plunged headlong into the trumpet world, studying with Dennis Edelbrock and Chris Gekker. While still a teenager, he was regularly engaged for some of the most challenging works in the repertoire, including Bach’s Cantatas and the 2nd Brandenburg Concerto. After high school he continued his studies in Chicago with Vincent Cichowicz, becoming a fixture on the music scene through performances with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and virtually all of the city’s top jazz musicians. Having joined Rhythm & Brass and signed with Yamaha in 1995, Richardson moved to New York City in 1997, where he immediately began touring with Joe Henderson and began pursuit of his classical solo career in earnest.
Richardson has collaborated with countless legendary artists and ensembles, including Brian Blade, Benny Carter, Boston Brass, Ray Charles, Mike Clarke, Dave Douglas, Kurt Elling, Carl Fontana, Aretha Franklin, Wycliffe Gordon, Stefon Harris, Conrad Herwig, Dave Holland, Dave Liebman, Keith Lockhart, James Morrison, Jimmy Owens, Jim Pugh, Chris Potter, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Arturo Sandoval, Bobby Shew, Allen Vizzutti, Bill Watrous, and Steve Wilson. Jazz trumpet star Dave Douglas has called Rex “A national treasure.” (Style Weekly magazine)
A tireless champion of new music and an advocate of improvisation in classical as well as jazz settings, he presented the premiere performances of genre-bending concertos by Dana Wilson, Doug Richards and Peter Meechan on five continents since 2006. Since then he has performed James Stephenson’s Trumpet Concerto no. 2, “Rextreme” in over twenty countries. 2016 will see the premiere performances of four new concertos written for him by Anthony Plog, Allen Vizzutti, David Sampson and Andy Scott.
Richardson’s first six solo recordings, including the 2010 release Magnum Opus: 21st Century Trumpet Concertos are all released on Summit Records. His most recent CDs, Bugles Over Zagreb: the Music of Doug Richards” and Blue Shift have just been released in October of 2014 to rave reviews. Style Weekly called Richardson “One of the world’s most engaging and astonishingly versatile trumpeters.”
Richardson has taught at Virginia Commonwealth University since 2002. He served as Yamaha Artist-in-Residence for the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England for spring of 2012 and thereafter served the RNCM as International Tutor in Trumpet until 2015.
In 2009 he was presented with the VCU School of the Arts highest honor, the Award of Excellence, and he has been awarded the 2011 Theresa Pollack Prize for Excellence in the Arts. The Pollack Prize selectors wrote: “Richardson stands at the vanguard of jazz, classical and contemporary American music. As his star has risen internationally, he’s maintained a clear commitment to education through his position at VCU. He is an extraordinary musician.”
Want to learn more about Rex Richardson in his own words? Check out this Q&A.