Rich Willey plays trumpet, bass trumpet, valve trombone, tuba and Electronic Valve Instrument (EVI).
Rich continues to teach privately and composes and arranges music for various-sized jazz ensembles.
A U.S Army bandsman, he studied at the U.S. Navy School of Music and then attended North Texas State University where he studied jazz improvisation with Rich Matteson, Jack Petersen and Dan Haerle.
Rich spent his formative years as a jazz player in Philadelphia and NYC clubs and later participated in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop studying with Bob Brookmeyer and Manny Albam.
At the Manhattan School of Music Rich studied arranging with Mike Abene, trumpet with Byron Stripling, improvisation with Garry Dial and film scoring with Ed Green, graduating with a masters in jazz performance/trumpet.
Rich has toured with Maynard Ferguson and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and has played numerous times for the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, the Cab Calloway Orchestra, the Sammy Kaye Orchestra and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra.
Through the years Rich has played with and/or for: Lionel Hampton, Hank Mobley, Don Patterson, Buddy Morrow, Bob Haggart, Dick Hyman, Claudio Roditi, Chris Potter, Conrad Herwig, John Swana, Bob Mintzer, Kenny Drew Jr., Brad Mehldau, Mel Tormé, Bobby Sanabria, Skitch Henderson, Tommy Flanagan, and many others.
A perpetual student, Rich studied trumpet and bass trumpet with the legendary Dr. Donald S. Reinhardt in Philadelphia from 1978–1986, and is currently a student of Chris Gekker, professor of trumpet at University of Maryland.
Rich owns and operates Boptism Music, a publishing company begun in 2001 offering over 30 of his music and method books, and performs regularly in the Southeast.
In 2019 Rich recorded and released two CDs on the Wise Cat record label: Rich Willey’s Boptism Big Band — Down & Dirty, and Rich Willey’s Boptism Funk Band — Conspiracy.
“Rich Willey is an inspiration. His lines bubble . . . his sound is smooth to the touch. Rich had me popping my fingers and begging for more!” — BYRON STRIPLING, recording and performing artist, former lead trumpeter and soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra
“Rich Willey’s trumpet playing and his use of bass trumpet is especially refreshing. A no-nonsense player.” — MICHAEL ABENE, jazz pianist, arranger, composer, faculty member at Manhattan School of Music, NYC
“Rich’s arrangements are thoughtful and swinging. His bass trumpet sound and style really knocks me out.” — TED ROSENTHAL, jazz pianist, clinician, faculty member at The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music
Willing to teach
Intermediate to advanced
1999–2001: Manhattan School of Music, Masters degree in Jazz Performance/Trumpet, May 2001, 3.84 GPA
1996–99: University of South Florida; graduated cum distinction from College of
Fine Arts, May ‘99, 3.74 GPA, B.A. in Music Ed
1995–96: St. Petersburg Junior College, Associate of Arts Degree
1989–90: BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, studied with Bob Brookmeyer and Manny
1979: Jamey Aebersold Winter Jazz Clinic in Dallas, TX, studied with David Baker, Jack Petersen