When Kansas City area native, Richie Pratt embarked upon a career as a professional musician on the New York scene in the early 1970s, it was as much due to unanticipated intervention as anything else.
Pratt was born to a musical family and raised at Olathe, Kansas. He studied music and attended various music camps during his formative years as a youth. Eventually growing to become a rather large and muscular man, he attended the University of Kansas under a full four-year scholarship to play varsity football.
During his football career at KU, Pratt was a starting Tackle (KU All-Time Letterman, 1963-65) on the Jayhawk football team (blocking for NFL Hall of Fame running back, Gayle Sayers)! However, Pratt never stopped playing music. He also performed as a percussionist in the jazz, wind and orchestra ensembles while attending KU.
Upon leaving college, he was initially drafted by the New York Giants professional football team. In 1970, Pratt suffered a career ending knee injury prior to the start of his second season with the Giants and left football for good.
New York Scene
His professional tenure as a musician in New York actually began while he was employed as a Host at the famed Village Gate. Richie began sitting in with Jaki Byard and word began to spread about the big guy from the Midwest who played drums. The legendary bassist, Major Holley eventually invited Pratt to jam on Sundays at Jacques; which resulted in Junior Mance hearing him play drums and offering him his first paid gig as a drummer in New York.
Richie Pratt was the drum soloist in Broadway’s smashing tribute to Duke Ellington – Sophisticated Ladies, Starring: Phyllis Hyman, Gregory Hines, Hinton Battle, among others! Initially described in the New York press as a “bubbling cauldron of musical vitality,” Pratt has added musical diversity to his cauldron by performing with the American Symphony, the Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey; in the Broadway hits: Ain’t Suppose to Die; Dude; Raisin; and notably, Pratt was the drum soloist in Broadway’s smashing tribute to Duke Ellington – Sophisticated Ladies!
In the traditional Jazz arena, Pratt spent over three years as a member of the New York Jazz Quartet, which included Sir Roland Hanna, Frank Wess, and George Mraz. Pratt has also accompanied Billy Taylor, Milt Jackson, Milton Hinton, Frank Foster, Monte Alexander, Michel Legrand, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, and Benny Carter among others.
The lightness and sensitivity of his drumming has enhanced such legendary vocalists as: Nancy Wilson, Aretha Franklin, Marlena Shaw, Barry White, Melba Moore, the Temptations, Della Reese, Johnny Hartman, Carol Sloane, and Johnny Desmond as well.
Most recently Mr. Pratt was asked to serve on the Advisory Board for the Artists Recording Collective, and as a Consultant at Large for the American Heritage Orchestra.