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Rich Willey

As both a player and composer/arranger, Rich Willey is firmly rooted in the jazz tradition. His trumpet playing draws upon the wellspring of bebop with a contemporary freshness; brash and forceful, but also lyrical and warm. His compositions and arrangements are thoughtful and substantial, yet always accessible and listenable, combining a solid sense of swing with an overriding concern for melody. During the 1980s, Rich’s playing took on an even broader range of colors when he became one of only a select few jazz trumpeters to add to his arsenal the bass trumpet, a unique instrument with the range of a trombone but the bright timbre of a trumpet, to his musical palette.

A Florida native, Rich was active on the New York scene from the mid 1980s to the early 1990s, handling a wide range of Latin and jazz gigs, most notably backing up and recording with legendary vocalist Mel Tormé. He returned to Florida for a spell, where he continued his musical studies, founded the Gulf Coast Jazz Society in Dunedin, and performed regularly in the Greater Tampa Bay area.

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