Beginnings - Kansas City
Richie Pratt (March 11, 1943 – February 12, 2015, born Richard Dean Tyree) was an American jazz drummer. He embarked upon a career as a professional musician on the New York scene in the early 1970s, it was as much due to an unanticipated sporting injury as anything else. Pratt was born into a musical family (his mother was a church pianist and a brother is saxophonist, Chris Burnett) and grew up in the Kansas City metro city of Olathe, Kansas. He first studied music via the piano, as well as, attended various music camps as a youth prior to attending college as a music major at the University of Kansas.
Prolific Years - New York City
Richie Pratt’s prolific tenure as a first-call percussionist on the highly competitive New York City music scene began after he suffered a career-ending injury during his second season with the Giants. His professional tenure as a musician in New York actually began while he was employed as a host at the famed Village Gate.
Pratt began sitting in with Jaki Byard and word began to spread about the big guy from the Midwest who played drums. Bassist, Major Holley, eventually invited Pratt to jam on Sundays at Jacques, which resulted in Junior Mance hearing him play drums and offering him his first paid gig as a drummer in New York. He was sponsored into the American Federation of Musicians, Local 802 by pianist, Ahmad Jamal and eventually worked significantly as a studio session musician, contractor and sideman in numerous contexts.
Initially described in the New York press as a "bubbling cauldron of musical vitality", Pratt subsequently added musical diversity to his cauldron by performing with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey; in the Broadway hits: Ain't Supposed To Die A Natural Death; Dude; Raisin; and notably, Pratt was the drum soloist in Broadway's smashing tribute to Duke Ellington, Sophisticated Ladies.
In the traditional jazz arena, Pratt spent over three years as a member of the New York Jazz Quartet, which included Sir Roland Hanna, Frank Wess, and George Mraz. Pratt also accompanied Billy Taylor, Milt Jackson, Milton Hinton, Frank Foster, Monty Alexander, Michel Legrand, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, andBenny Carter among others. The lightness and sensitivity of his drumming has enhanced such legendary vocalists as: Nancy Wilson, Aretha Franklin, Marlena Shaw, Barry White, Melba Moore, the Temptations, Della Reese, Johnny Hartman, Carol Sloane, and Johnny Desmond as well.