Globe-girdling, Richmond-based trumpeter Rex Richardson is in town for a show at the Broadberry on Wednesday night. He'll be joined on the bandstand by a group of greatly talented players. Here's a preview:
The Broadberry concert is in some ways a summation of what he’s been up to since his 2011 recognition by Richmond magazine's Theresa Pollak Prizes for Excellence in the Arts. (See his acceptance here).
He’s not slowed down since.
The pieces are coming from two bodies of work, Blue Shift, which he recorded with saxophonist Steve Wilson, and a big band endeavor, Bugles Over Zagreb, that Richardson and composer, musician and teacher Doug Richards created with the Croatian Radio-TV Jazz Orchestra.
“Blue Shift was recorded three years ago,” the husky-voiced Richardson explains, when I meet him at the start of what's going to be a typically busy day for him. “It feels like a million years ago. We had to work out some stuff, post-production-wise.” Richardson had long wanted to work with Wilson.
“When we actually got together and played,” he rocked his head, “I realized: This guy makes me play better. I got my three favorite rhythm section guys and we put together this project. So now it’s finally coming out on Summit records.”
The genesis of Bugles Over Zagreb occurred quite far from southeastern Europe, in Australia. Richardson attended the 2010 International Trumpet Guild conference, where he met Tomislav Spoljar, who lives in Zagreb and organizes a brass festival. He invited Richardson to perform in 2012.
“I was selected as a soloist for a big band and I suggested we try to do Doug [Richard]’s concerto. But trying to do this without him on the podium is kind of difficult. Tom had this radio and television orchestra, professional jazz band, and we played the piece and the leader was quite taken by it.”
The concerto was made part of a live concert, video recorded and broadcast on national television in Croatia.
This led to Richardson and Richards in 2013 traveling to Zagreb. “It was great to see Doug rehearse the way he wanted to. He’s demanding and tireless. This maybe the best performance of his music, between the level of performance and time for preparation.”
Richards (a 2000 Pollak honoree) will conduct the big band portion. “Dukal Bugles,” is a tribute to Duke Ellington’s great trumpet solos. Richards wrote “Dukal Bugles” for Jon Faddis, a great trumpet player, as a commission from the International Trumpet Guild the same year that marked the centennial of Elllington’s birth. Richards considered this a good reason to compose a lively tribute to Ellington.
Richardson says, “Jon has an incredible facility in a high register also an incredible mimic. He can also play in the styles of others. He’s actually a dead ringer for these guys when he tries to imitate.”
Here, Doug Richards talks about the origins of Dukal Bugles.
Richards contracted the big band players, including Suzi Fischer on baritone sax (she's played in the RVA Big Band, Beast Wellington and The Big Payback) and saxophonist Marty Nau from Washington D.C. Steve Wilson has a prior commitment in D.C. and won't be at the Broadberry.
But in the department of happy coincidences, the Broadberry’s booking manager, Lucas Fritz, is a former student of Richardson’s. “That guy is a really talented composer and quite a good trumpet player,” Richardson says.
It should be a cool night, regardless of what the weather does. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show Wednesday. Tickets are $10 general admission and $8 for students.
Here's a taste of what you can expect.