Richard Sussman Jazz Quintet & Sextet

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, Tim Hagans, Jerry Begonzi, Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer, Dick Oatts, Mike Stern, Mike Richmond, Jeff Williams, and Anthony Pinciotti.  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 cognoscenti.

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. “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. Currently, Richard has also added a violin to the mix in order to allow string sonorities from “The Evolution Suite” to be added to the small group repertoire.

The Richard Sussman “Evolution Suite” Ensemble and Sextet

In addition to his accomplishments as a modern jazz pianist and multi-genre composer/arranger, Richard Sussman has also pursued and developed his interest and passion for music technology and the use of electronics in music. He received a Grammy award for his work as synthesizer programmer on Randy Brecker’s 1998 release “Into The Sun”. In 2014 Richard received a Chamber Music America New Jazz Works grant to compose a multi-movement suite of new music for Jazz Quintet, String Quartet, and Electronics. This resulted in the creation of the 5-movement, hour long “Evolution Suite” and Evolution Ensemble. The music was premiered in 2015 at New York’s Symphony Space, and a live recording of the performance was released on ZOHO records in 2016 to widespread critical acclaim including inclusion in Downbeat Magazine’s “Best CD’s of the Year”.

This music integrates Sussman’s many varied influences and areas of expertise, including straight ahead jazz, electronics, contemporary classical composition, and pop music, and features members of the acclaimed Sirius String Quartet along with top jazz soloists such as Tim Hagans, Scott Wendholt, Zach Brock, and Rich Perry, along with a jazz/funk rhythm section, 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. The full Evolution Ensemble consists of 10 musicians, however it has been re-arranged for a smaller ensemble so the music can now also be performed with a sextet.

Richard Sussman, Composer/Arranger

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 completed an orchestral composition, “Convergence B," which was premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in New York in June, 2013.

One For Thad - comp/arr by Richard Sussman (Edited)
16 piece Big Band (4 tpts, 4 tbns, 5 saxes, 3 rhythm)
Originally conceived as part of “Suite for Jazz Band & Orchestra #2”, reworked as a stand-alone big band chart, 1995. Performed by Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra, November, 2000.

Avalon – comp. Jolson, Rose, DeSylva, arr. by Richard Sussman (Edited)
15 piece Big Band (4, 3, 5, 3)
Commissioned by Lionel Hampton, 1981.
Recorded by Dean Pratt, 1995.

Ivories Tower - comp/arr by Richard Sussman (Edited)
17 piece Big Band (4, 4, 5, 4)
17 piece Big Band plus Fl 1 & 2, Ob, FH, Harp, Orch Perc, Strings
ASCAP Jazz Award, composed as a tribute to jazz piano legend Hank Jones, Feb, 2009.
Reworked for the Metropole Orchestra, May, 2009.

Convergence B - Richard Sussman (Complete)
Full Orchestra (2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, Tba, 3 Pk, Pno, Strings)
Composed for American Composers Orchestra.
Performed by the ACO, New York, June, 2013.

Cicada Love Dance - Richard Sussman (Edited)
String Quartet, Piano, Fixed Media Electronics
Composed for Martha Mooke, 2014.
Performed by Scorchio Quartet, New York, Feb., 2015.
Electric violin solo by Zach Brock.

Trio for Piano, Violin, & Laptop - Richard Sussman (Edited)
Piano, Violin, Fixed Media Electronics
Composed for Kathleen Supovè and Jennifer Choi
Performed by Kathleen Supovë and Jennifer Choi, New York, Sep., 2015.

All Will Be Revealed - Richard Sussman (Edited)
String Quartet & Piano
Composed for Manhattan School of Music Faculty Recital, April, 2010.
Performed by Richard Sussman and the Sirius Quartet, April, 2010.

The Richard Sussman/Hank Jones Tribute Project

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 would 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.

Ah, Oui! – comp. Hank Jones, arr. by Richard Sussman, 2014 (Edited)
Tpt, Rd 1 (AS, Fl, Alto Fl), Rd 2 (TS, Clar, Bs Clar), Tbn, Pno, Gtr, Bs, Dr
See Music Page for personnel listings.

Alone & Blue – comp. Hank Jones, arr. by Richard Sussman, 2014 (Complete)
Tpt, Rd 1 (AS, Fl, Alto Fl), Rd 2 (TS, Clar, Bs Clar), Tbn, Pno, Gtr, Bs, Dr

Major Minor Contention – comp. Hank Jones, arr. by Richard Sussman, 2014 (Edited)
Tpt, Rd 1 (AS, Fl, Alto Fl), Rd 2 (TS, Clar, Bs Clar), Tbn, Pno, Gtr, Bs, Dr 

China - Cultural Exchange

Richard Sussman has travelled to China five times, visiting many Chinese Conservatories, private schools, and concert venues, where he has presented a series of master classes and concert performances.  These programs have been aimed at bringing a greater awarenes of American Jazz music, and the study, practice, and techniques of teaching this art form to Chinese students and educators.  Richard currently has two top-level jazz ensembles available for performances in Shanghai and Beijing.

As a means of enhancing the educational impact of these programs, Richard authored a book “Jazz Theory and Improvisation”, translated to Mandarin and specifically targeted to the Chinese market.  The new book has been enthusiastically received by students and teachers, and provides all participants with detailed instructions for continued study following the workshops and master classes.  The book is scheduled to be released by the Shanghai Music Publishing House in Spring 2019.

Richard’s philosophy regarding cultural exchange can be summed up as follows:

“There are many important opportunities for building long term good will and friendship between two countries, as well as learning more about our diverse cultures by means of a well thought out program of cultural exchange through music. I also feel very strongly that the true soul of a society lives within its music and art. Therefore there is no better way to build bridges between two societies than through cultural exchange. This will not only benefit musicians and artists, but will also help to educate our societies and peoples in all walks of life about each other. With education, enhanced awareness, and closer cultural ties, many doors can be opened for greater cooperation in all areas of business, commerce, sports, and more.”  - Richard Sussman

In June 2015, Richard was honored for his teaching by being named “Honorary Professor” at the Sichuan Conservatory in Chengdu.  Richard is experienced and well-qualified to bring this type of cultural exchange to other countries around the world.