by Russ Dantzler
June 24, New York, NY -- Jerome Richardson, 79, suffered heart failure and passed away at 6:45 a.m. Friday at Englewood Hospital in New Jersey. He is survived by his wife Rowena, daughters Denise Wilson and Kim Richardson, and grandchildren Spring and Sean.
Per his wishes, a memorial service at Saint Peter's Church in Manhattan is being planned in lieu of a funeral. At the family's request, donations may be made in his name to the Dizzy Gillespie Foundation, which has helped countless jazz musicians in need, such as the late jazz vocalist Teri Thornton. Tax-deductible donations noted in memory of Jerome Richardson" can be written to EMHC, and sent to: The Dizzy Gillespie Foundation, 350 Engle St., Englewood, NJ 07631.
Born December 25, 1920, in Oakland, CA, Richardson started professionally at age 14. Early work included stints with Jimmy Lunceford and Lionel Hampton. He became a regular band member with Hampton, Earl Hines and the Quincy Jones Orchestra, with whom he toured and recorded into the 1980s. Associations with Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee, Billy Eckstine, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and Lena Horne sealed his reputation as a consummate accompanist. Richardson contracted and performed in the Broadway shows Ain't Misbehavin,'" Black & Blue," Jelly's Last Jam" and Play On."
Richardson pioneered the use of flute in modern jazz. His soprano saxophone lead was an important component in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, of which he was a founding member. This versatile multi-instrumentalist can be heard on over 4,000 recordings, as well as countless television studio appearances in L.A. and New York. Recently he favored the alto saxophone, led his own group, composed, arranged and sang. He toured with the Harlem Nutcracker and made his final tour in Israel as featured soloist and leader. His latest critically acclaimed CD as a leader, Jazz Station Runaway" on TCB, was produced by his manager and loving friend Suzi Reynolds.