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Listen Closely


The music of Doug Richards and his students and collaborators, when brought together, is a little like a musical family tree. There are certain similarities and, often, major departures. We're collecting the sounds of the musicians who have come out of the VCU Jazz Studies Program or those who have worked with Richards so that you can navigate the musical waterways of Cap'n Richards and his many mates. Being that these are musicians, some may sleep late, so stay tuned to this spot as we add musicians' profiles in the coming days.

Doug Richards

  • "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man"

  • "West End Blues"

    Both of these arrangements are on the "It's All in the G.A.M.E." album recorded in 2001 and as-yet-unreleased. This is Richards' first recording with the Great American Music Ensemble and highlight the intricacy and delicacy of his arrangements. "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, features the voice talents of Rene Marie -- you can hear the dialogue going on between Marie and the music. "West End Blues," by Clarence Williams, Joe Oliver and Louis Armstrong, features trumpeter Jon Faddis, violinist Joe Kennedy, Jr., and pianist Weldon Hill.

    Samson Trinh and the Upper East Side Big Band

  • "To You, Near You, With You"

    Trinh, a VCU jazz alum, is one of the closest students of the true big band sound. And one of the most ambitious. Trinh assembled his 17-piece Upper East Side Big Band to play the Upper East Side Lounge and after it closed, has gone on to compose and record his album "Very Strange Night." On this track, Richards conducts the strings and Terri Simpson sings. Also featured is the Lounge Union Orchestra.

    Rex Richardson

  • First movement, "Groove," from Concerto for Jazz Trumpet and Brass Band

    Richardson is one of those rare trumpet players who command both classical and jazz sounds. A VCU instructor, Richardson spends a lot of his time on the road, touring and playing with ensembles around the world. He plays such arcane instruments as the piccolo trumpet, which can be heard on "Groove," a composition he wrote and premiered, along with Richards' Intercontinental Concerto, at the Melbourne Festival of Brass last October. This recording comes from the November performance at VCU's Singleton Center. The ensemble is composed of VCU faculty, alums and students. Richards conducts. Richardson can be heard playing trumpet, flugelhorn and piccolo trumpet.

    Michael Hearst and Joshua Camp, One Ring Zero

  • "Half and Half"

  • "Where Do Ice Cream Trucks Go In the Winter?"

    Hearst and Camp took the compositional teachings of Richards and instructors like the legendary Dika Newlin and twisted the concepts as much, it seems, as they could. For their album "As Smart As We Are" (2004), they assembled some pretty famous writers, including Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Lethem and Paul Auster, to write lyrics for the songs, which they then assembled some 15 musicians to perform. ORZ thrives on the weird instruments, the theramin, claviola and some that were invented to create particularly strange sounds. "Half and Half' (lyrics by Richmond native Clay McLeod Chapman, guest vocals by Hanna Cheek) features a little instrumental bit called a "soli," something they learned from Richards. A jazz technique usually using brass or woodwinds, ORZ mutates it here with two claviolas and two accordions. "Where Do Ice Cream Trucks Go In the Winter?" a tune from Hearst's concept album "Songs for Ice Cream Trucks," is included to show that a jazz education can be applied almost anywhere.

    The Big Payback

  • "Sex Machine"

    This 10-piece James Brown tribute band features a few Jazz Studies alums, including saxophonist Jason Arce, trombonist Reggie Pace and trumpeter Charles Gregory. It's hard to capture the foot-shuffling energy of James Brown, but singer Kelli Strawbridge is all over the stage. This recording was made at the Canal Club.

    Mark Ingraham and Bungalo6

  • "Moanin'"

    VCU alum and trumpeter Mark Ingraham has taken jazz and given it a very definite voice, as his arrangement of "Moanin'" by Bobby Timmons shows. Not just from singer Margaux LeSourd, but from the intricacy of the arrangements, the heavy colorations of funk, soul, even pop. There's also a real density to the music -- not cluttered, but full, rich -- that's reflected in their live shows. The eight-piece, when playing a show at Café Diem, was practically stacked on top of one another, but rolled along like a fine brass engine. Other than singer LeSourd and pianist Brian Mahne, the other members of Bungalo6 -- Ingraham, Jason Gay (sax), Reggie Pace (trombone), Trey Pollard (guitar), Derrick Englert (bass) and Devonne Harris (drums) -- all studied under Richards.

    Gordy Haab

  • "Ryan Vs Dorkman II"

    The L.A.-based composer went a different way with his VCU schooling -- into film scores. Interestingly, Richards says if he had to do it all over again, he would have liked to try his hand at doing films. He says he doesn't think he'd have the courage to do it, but it would certainly put an interesting spin on a Michael Bay film. Anyway, his teaching worked well for Haab (Richards really admires Haab's success out there in Hollywood), who has scored more than 50 films thus far. His last big appearance in Richmond was when the horror movie he'd scored, "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon" (starring Robert Englund) showed here. He's also scored "Dave Barry's Guide to Guys," done a few musicals and so on. He co-founded the 90-piece Novo Philharmonic and recently was named "Composer in Residence" at the Henry Mancini Institute. This piece is for an action film titled, mysteriously, "Ryan Vs Dorkman II." We hope it's as good as the original.

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