Jerome Richardson


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Always a very valuable musician to have on a session, Jerome Richardson (1920-2000) played tenor, alto, flute, baritone, and soprano extremely well, as if each one were his main instrument. He tended to be underrated because he was a studio musician who was often mostly in the ensembles, but Richardson was a fine soloist too.

Richardson first played alto sax when he was eight and was a professional musician at 14. He spent 1942-1945 in the military, partly playing in a service band led by Marshall Royal. After his discharge he worked with Lionel Hampton and Earl Hines, moving to New York in 1953. Richardson worked in a countless number of situations including with Oscar Pettiford, Chico Hamilton, Gerry Mulligan, and the Quincy Jones big band (touring Europe during 1959-1960).

Richardson did not lead many recording dates in his career but he headed two for New Jazz during 1958-1959. Midnight Oil has Richardson mostly on flute, forming an unusual front line with trombonist Jimmy Cleveland. They are joined by a four-piece rhythm section with pianist Hank Jones and guitarist Kenny Burrell, performing cool-toned bop. Roamin’ with Richardson is a quartet outing with pianist Richard Wyands, bassist George Tucker, and drummer Charlie Persip. The leader plays baritone on three songs, two on tenor, and one on flute, swinging on each of his horns.

Jerome Richardson was never out of work. He was a member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra during 1965-1970, moved to Hollywood in 1971, and was kept very busy as a studio musician and an occasional jazz soloist for the remainder of his life.