Feature CD Review: Rich Willey’s “Down & Dirty”
Review by Malvin Massey, Jr.,
This Feature CD Review is from trumpeter, bass trumpeter, bandleader, composer and arranger Rich Willey. The album is titled Rich Willey’s Boptism Big Band, Down & Dirty.
This is really good from the first track. This CD has a wide variety of tracks that touch on jazz, funk, Latin, baroque, reggae all with savage arrangements and hot musicians and the unmistakable energy of bebop.
These are all original tunes and the kicker is that he has enlisted the services of some of the musicians, who are his friends and contemporaries, as well as one of my favorite big band arrangers, Gordon Goodwin, to make the tracks full of life.
Rich Willey (pronounced like Billy) is a journeyman musician with plenty of credentials in jazz. He is one of the few trumpeters who uses a bass trumpet (similar in sound to a trombone) in his repertoire.
A Florida native, Rich spent time in the “Philly” and New York jazz scenes from the early 80’s to the 90’s in a wide range of Latin and jazz gigs. Most notably, he was backing up and recording with “The Velvet Fog” Mel Torme.
He decided to go back to Florida and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from The University of South Florida. There he founded the Gulf Coast Jazz Society and performed in the greater Tampa Bay area.
He went back to “the City” in 1999 to attend the Manhattan School of Music, earning a Master’s Degree in jazz trumpet performance. In 2001 he was touring as second trumpet with the great Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau.
He went on to tour with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under the direction of Buddy Morrow after that.
Over the years, he has performed with some of the biggest names in jazz, he has released three CDs and owns his own Boptism Music label. He and his wife Janet live just outside Ashville, N.C. where he writes and arranges music and performs regularly throughout the Southeast.
This 18-piece band includes many names that jazz aficionados will recognize, many of whom Rich has studied or performed during his career. They represent some of the best musicians in Los Angeles, where the twelve tracks were recorded by award winning engineer Tommy Vicari at Conway Studio in Hollywood.
Suffice it to say that this Feature CD will “wow” you with excitement and personality in each and every track. This is big band at its best.