Richard Sussman

Richard Sussman's Biography

Richard Sussman is an accomplished jazz pianist, composer, synthesist, and educator. His varied career as a performer has included performances and/or recordings with such diverse artists as Lionel Hampton, Lee Konitz, Buddy Rich, Houston Person, Randy Brecker, Steve Slagle, Blood Sweat & Tears, David Sanborn, Marty Balin, Country Joe McDonald, Carly Simon, and Donna Summer. His jazz discography includes four albums of original music as a leader, including the critically acclaimed "Free Fall" (Double-Time Records), "Live At Sweet Rhythm" (Origin Records), and most recently "Continuum" (Origin). "Continuum", released in June 2012, highlights original compositions by Richard performed by an all-star quintet featuring Randy Brecker-tpt & flg hrn, Jerry Bergonzi-tnr sx, Mike Richmond-bs, Jeff Williams-dr, Richard-pno & synthesizer, with a cameo appearance by guitarist Mike Stern on one tune.

Richard's large-scale jazz and orchestral compositions have been performed by the Village Vanguard Orchestra, the Westchester Jazz Orchestra, the Metropole Orchestra, the Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra, and the American Composers Orchestra, to name a few. He was selected to be a participant in the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute, sponsored by the American Composers Orchestra, in August 2012, and was subsequently selected to compose a new composition for orchestra which was premiered by the ACO in June, 2013.

Richard's original composition "Ivories Tower", composed for the ASCAP award in honor of jazz legend Hank Jones, was premiered by the Chicago Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Jon Faddis in February 2009. The work was subsequently performed by the Metropole Orchestra (May, 2009) with Hank Jones as the featured soloist. His meeting with Hank Jones led to further arranging work with the maestro, including editing and music preparation for The Hank Jones Songbook of Hank's little known original tunes (2010, now available on Hal Leonard). This was to be followed by a studio date of the material with arrangements by Sussman, a project that unfortunately never materialized due to Hank's untimely passing in the summer of 2010.

Richard has an ongoing and active commitment to music education. He has been a member of the jazz faculty at the Manhattan School of Music since 1986 where his responsibilities have included private composition lessons, teaching and developing curriculum for jazz arranging classes, as well as managing all aspects of the Electronic Music Technology Studios and related courses for the Jazz Department. Richard's book "Jazz Composition and Arranging In the Digital Age", co-authored with Michael Abene (Oxford University Press, 2012), has been hailed as a comprehensive and trend-setting text for jazz composers in the 21st century. Richard Sussman is a skilled and experienced clinician, and is available for master classes and residencies in the areas of jazz composition, arranging, theory, improvisation, and many areas of music technology, including film scoring. He has presented clinics and performances at many national and international conferences including IAJE, The College Music Society/Association for Technology In Music Instruction, and JEN.

Richard has directed much of his creative energy over the years towards exploring ways of integrating elements of jazz improvisation, contemporary classical compositional techniques, electronics, and contemporary pop music. In 2014 he received a Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Award to create a new composition for jazz group, string quartet, and electronics, providing an opportunity to further explore this ongoing interest. He also received the College Music Society Fund Technology Award in 2013 for developing a two-year Masters degree program in Music Technology and Contemporary Media at the Manhattan School of Music. Richard continues to build a presence in the avante-garde, hybrid world of New Music, with recent appearances at the Tribeca New Music Festival, Composers Concordance Festival, and Tania Leon's Composers Now Festival in New York.

Richard also participated as a performer/clinician in the First China Jazz Education Festival in Shanghai in 2012, and has since toured China on a regular basis teaching master classes, private students, coaching ensembles atmajor conservatories, and performing at top jazz venues in Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, and Hong Kong. For his trip to China in May, 2014, he authored the book "Jazz Theory and Improvisation", translated to Mandarin and targeted specifically to the Chinese students and educators.

Richard has received numerous awards including two NEA grants in Jazz Composition, an ASCAP Jazz Composition Award in 2008, and a Chamber Music America New Jazz Works grant in 2014. His extensive work in the field of film and TV has included projects for ABC, NBC, CBS, Disney, and Nickelodeon. Richard continues to perform, tour, and compose for various ensembles internationally.

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Richard Sussman