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Take Five With Libby Richman

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Meet Libby Richman: Composer, reed player Libby Richman leads an ensemble that plays original contemporary jazz. Her sound echoes the influences of Classical, Latin, and Pop music. She is a Meet the Composer grant recipient. Open Strings, released in February, is her third CD.

She has traveled widely as a professional musician, leading her jazz quartet and as a side musician for big bands and touring musical theater productions.

Libby lives in the Bronx and performs all over the tri- state area. In addition to jazz concerts, she entertains in residences and for senior groups with her Musical Journey programs.

Originally from Indiana, Libby got her BA from the University of Massachusetts, and has studied with jazz pianist Sal Mosca, tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer, and alto saxophonist David Allan Gross.

Instrument(s):

Alto sax.

Teachers and/or influences? Sal Mosca, David Allan Gross, Bob Mintzer.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I saw an ad in the New York Times for Cabaret that featured a female saxophonist.

Your sound and approach to music: My sound echoes the influences of jazz, classical and world music. Definitely more modal than be-bop. I'm inspired by the popular music of the '60s and '70s.

Your teaching approach: Currently I don't teach, but taught privately for 10 years. My philosophy was always "less is more." I gave my students the nuts and bolts of music theory, with emphasis on scales and chords. I also encouraged them to compose, even beginners.

Your dream band:

I really enjoy the musicians I am working with now: Kate Cosco, Linda Presgrave, Alan Rosenthal, Bruce Edwards, Sue Williams, Fred Weidenhammer, Steve Little, Hiroshi Yamazaki.

I have been to jam sessions with Noriko Kamo, and would like to hire her to play with drummer Art Lillard.

My dream would be to trade fours with Eric Alexander!

Road story: Your best or worst experience: We played an outdoor festival in Glen Cove, LI that had so much going on that we only played three tunes. Every time we started to play, there would be a bagpipe parade or vintage car parade. I wound up helping to judge the pickle eating contest!

Favorite venue:

The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? Saxophone Colossus, by Sonny Rollins. Sonny's sound is vibrant and deep.

The first Jazz album I bought was: A Song For My Father, by Horace Silver.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? My quest is to be true to myself musically in the moment. I don't know if this is a contribution, but I'm always trying to grow as a musician.

Did you know...

I'm a small-town girl from Indiana (Mulberry, IN)

CDs you are listening to now: Sonny Rollins, Ballads (Blue Note); Eric Alexander, Man With A Horn (MCD); The Best Of The Gypsy Kings (Nonesuch ).

Desert Island picks: Horace Silver, A Song For My Father (Blue Note); Miles Davis, Milestones (Columbia);
Booker T. & The MGs, Best Of Booker T. & The MGs; Bob Dylan, Greatest Hits.

How would you describe the state of jazz today? Jazz is still relevant, but we're struggling to keep it in the mainstream of cultural interest.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? The interest and cultivation of acoustic music in schools and communities.

What is in the near future? Right now I'm busy promoting my most recent CD, Open Strings, which was released in Feb 2010.

By Day:

I entertain in senior residences as a performing musician

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: selling something else!


Photo Credit
Katya Chilingiri, Courtesy of the Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University

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