Richie Cole fans continue to praise the jazz/bebop artist who is recognized worldwide for the sweet sounds of his alto sax and the creativity behind his Alto Madness Orchestra.
The Alto Madness Orchestra was developed by Richie in the early 90's and its continuing popularity is proof of its uniqueness. "The idea of the Orchestra is the concept and sound of an eighteen-piece big band using only seven instruments, four of which are horns," explained Richie with pride. "Not only does this have the big band ensemble sound, it also allows us plenty of room for improvisation as if we were in a quartet setting," he added enthusiastically.
Cole’s ability goes far beyond mesmerizing the audience with his saxophone because he does all the composing and arranging, having amassed over five thousand of the latter. He also finds time to arrange for full big bands and Symphony Orchestras. Jazz Festivals book Cole months in advance and his appearances in clubs assure large audiences.
Richie’s musical mind is always working, and it’s not unusual for him to write five to ten original compositions a day including all the parts for his seven piece band.
Cole and his saxophone, one of three Selmer Paris saxes he uses, travel the world captivating his fans. When he started on the road he used a customized van, now Risë laughed and said, "We travel by all modes, train, plane, automobile, bus, donkey" displaying her hearty sense of humor.
When Cole was touring Siberia he premiered his Jazz Suite, "A Night in Siberia", which was performed by the Red Army Big Band. The mayor of Tomsk, Siberia and the concert promoter are hoping to arrange a state department tour of their Orient Express route.
Cole’s knowledge is revered in Master Classes at Universities and Colleges and the Alto Madness Orchestra course has entered its sixth year at the University of Madrid in Spain.
"Music is such an important part of life and its appreciation should start in the young. Musical education is vital and that’s why I organized the Alto Madness Junior Orchestra. It allows me a chance to work with children 10 to 16 years-old. It teaches them to perform music especially written for their capability. That way they can understand it, feel it, and have the sense of musical accomplishment. That’s when the love of music, jazz or otherwise, is developed", said Richie, who then added, "There’s nothing to replace music that comes from the heart and soul". Cole’s students respond to his informality and conversational personal experiences during his forty years in the industry. "Everyone has the opportunity to play...and listen", he said.