Hailed as “An artist with an exceptional talent who has made a name for himself as one of the finest trumpet players in the world today,” (4barsrest.com) “one of the world’s most engaging and astonishingly versatile trumpeters,” (Style Weekly) and “a national treasure,” (jazz trumpet legend Dave Douglas) 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.
As a professional trumpeter, Richardson has shared the stage with countless legendary artists and ensembles, including Brian Blade, Benny Carter, Boston Brass, Ray Charles, Mike Clarke, Dave Douglas, Kurt Elling, Pacho Flores, 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, Doc Severinsen, Bobby Shew, Allen Vizzutti, Bill Watrous, and Steve Wilson.
Having developed a unique reputation in the trumpet world for his combination of singular virtuosity, a highly personal style, and an emphasis on improvisation in classical as well as jazz idioms, Richardson has become a tireless champion of new music. He presented the premiere performances of genre-bending concertos by Dana Wilson, Doug Richards and Peter Meechan on four continents between 2006 and 2010. Since then he presented James Stephenson’s Trumpet Concerto no. 2, “Rextreme” in more than twenty-five countries. 2016 and 2017 saw the premiere performances of four new concertos written for Richardson by Anthony Plog, Allen Vizzutti, David Sampson and Andy Scott.
Richardson’s seven solo recordings, including the 2010 release Magnum Opus: 21st Century Trumpet Concertos and the 2017 release Foundation: the Trumpet Concertos are all released on Summit Records. Referring to Magnum Opus, the International Trumpet Guild Journal printed “This album, without a doubt, puts Rex Richardson among the very best trumpet soloists in the world today.” (January 2011) His most recent CDs, Bugles Over Zagreb: the Music of Doug Richards” and Blue Shift have just been released in October of 2014. In praise of the latter, DownBeat magazine called Richardson “a standout soloist with the power, range and flexibility to rival Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw.” (February, 2015)
Richardson has taught at Virginia Commonwealth University since 2002 and served as artist-in-residence or visiting professor at Ithaca College and London’s Trinity College of Music. 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 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.”