The critically acclaimed Richard Sussman Quintet has been acknowledged as an innovative and influential force in modern jazz for over 30 years. The group has featured some of the top players in jazz, including Tom Harrell, Jerry Begonzi, Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer, Dick Oatts, Mike Stern, Mike Richmond, and Jeff Williams. Susman’s three recordings as a leader with this band always feature his uniquely original and compelling compositions. His debut recording as a leader, "Free Fall" (Double-Time Records), has been called “one of the seminal recordings of the late ‘70s” by jazz trumpeter Brian Lynch, and has become something of an underground classic over the years, highly praised by musicians, critics, educators, and jazz cognescenti.
The group released a live recording, “The Richard Sussman Quintet Live at Sweet Rhythm” on Origin Records in 2010, featuring a reunion of the personnel from the classic “Free Fall” recording. Sussman’s most recent quintet recording, “Continuum” (Origin Records 2012), features original compositions by Richard performed by Randy Brecker-trumpet & flugel horn, Jerry Bergonzi-tenor sax, Mike Richmond-bass, Jeff Williams-drums, and Richard-piano & synthesizer,with a guest appearance by Mike Stern on guitar. The recording received widespread critical acclaim, with a strong radio campaign throughout 2012. Continuum peaked at #4 on the College Music Journal, #4 on the Roots Music Report (including 6 consecutive weeks in the RMR top 10), and #42 on the Jazz Week Charts.
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Richard Sussman’s creative work in the area of music technology has coalesced into a new ensemble – “The Evolution Ensemble” – which features Sussman’s skill as a cutting edge programmer, performer, and composer in this realm. The music for this ensemble integrates Sussman’s many varied influences and areas of expertise, including straight ahead jazz, electronics, contemporary classical composition, and pop music. The ensemble features members of the acclaimed Sirius String Quartet along with top jazz artists including Scott Wendholt, Rich Perry, Zach Brock, Mike Richmond, Anthony Pinciotti, and Sussman performing on piano, synthesizer, and laptop. The result is a truly cutting edge blend of highly original and marketable music with a completely contemporary appeal.
Sussman was honored to receive a Chamber Music America New Jazz Works grant in 2014 to compose a multi-movement suite of new music for this ensemble. The new music had its World and New York City premiers on December 18, 19, and 20, 2015. The music was recorded live at Symphony Space in New York, and will soon be available on CD and downloads. Please go to the Calendar or Home Page for more details.
In addition to his accomplishments as a modern jazz pianist and composer/arranger, Richard Sussman continues to pursue and develop his interest and passion for music technology and the use of synthesizers and electronics in music. He received a Grammy award for his work as synthesizer programmer on Randy Brecker’s 1998 release “Into The Sun”. His extensive work in the field of film and television scoring has included projects for ABC, NBC, CBS, Nickelodeon, and Disney.
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In addition to his work as a jazz pianist and composer for small jazz ensemble and electronics, Richard Sussman has amassed a wide array of credits as a composer for large jazz ensemble, orchestral works, and contemporary classical “New Music”. Sussman’s arrangements for jazz big band have been performed by Lionel Hampton, Mel Lewis, the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, the Westchester Jazz Orchestra, the Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra, the Dean Pratt Big Band, and many others. Richard is a two-time NEA grant recipient for jazz composition, resulting in the composition of two suites for jazz soloist and orchestra which explore the integration of contemporary classical compositional techniques with jazz improvisation.
He has also been commissioned to write numerous arrangements for the acclaimed Metropole Orchestra of Amsterdam, including several arrangements and an original composition for a Hank Jones tribute concert, with Hank as the featured soloist. Richard has recently completed an orchestral composition which was premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in New York in June, 2013.
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Richard Sussman/Hank Jones
Richard Sussman was one of the last arrangers to work with Hank Jones before he passed away in May 2010 (at age 91). Richard’s association with Hank began with the ASCAP Jazz Composition Award in 2008 in honor of Hank Jones. This led to the composition of “Ivories Tower” by Richard, as well as arrangements of several of Hank’s originals performed by the Metropole Orchestra in May, 2009, with Hank Jones as the featured soloist. The association continued with Richard working closely with Hank on the editing and preparation of Hank’s original tunes for publication in a Hank Jones Songbook. The songbook was completed in the Spring of 2010 and is now available on Hal Leonard.
Hank was planning to follow the songbook with a studio recording of his original tunes for 3-4 horns plus rhythm, to be arranged by Richard Sussman. The recording project was something Hank was passionate about, and was scheduled to take place in the Summer of 2010. Unfortunately, Hank became ill and passed in June, 2010. The planned recording never took place. Richard Sussman is committed to completing the arrangements and recording of this material as a tribute to Hank, and to honor his last wishes. Richard would play piano, write the arrangements, and conduct the session, based on his knowledge of how Hank wanted the music to be presented. Ideally the band could be filled out with all-star musicians such as Randy Brecker on trumpet, Steve Wilson on alto sax, Lewis Nash on drums, and others of that caliber.
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Richard Sussman has been an integral member of the Jazz Composition Faculty at the highly esteemed Manhattan School of Music in New York City since 1986. His responsibilities at MSM include private composition lessons, teaching and developing curriculum for Jazz Arranging classes, and managing all aspects of the Electronic Music Technology/MIDI Recording Studios for the Jazz Department. He is an established and effective clinician both in the areas of jazz improvisation and composition, as well as music technology and scoring for film and television.
A new, critically acclaimed arranging textbook, “Jazz Composition and Arranging in the Digital Age”, co-authored by Richard and Michael Abene, was published in January, 2012 by Oxford University Press.