"Giving Jazz Back to the Community, One Child at a Time"

I was born and raised in New York City and Long Island, much of it in the town of Bethpage, NY. In 1960, I was chosen by the great trombone player Warren Covington to work with The Tommy Dorsey Band as bass trombonist. It was the beginning of my professional life as a musician. I was only 18!

I'm currently living in Las Vegas because of my entertainment connections.  Our favorite studio is in Vegas and it's where my daughter, Brooke, and wife, Kristin, join me to make music together.  Our friend, great keyboardist, producer and vocalist Joey Melotti runs the Dreamspell Studios.

Although I've always been into jazz, blues, and big band music, I’ve been opening myself up to new styles in the process of writing and recording with my family. My wife and daughter enjoy Americana, pop, country, latin and other styles, as do I. Even my grandson, Jovanny, is in on the act. He’s been singing a wide variety of music in many genres. I do most of the writing and composition, and Kristin assists with lyrics on some songs! Brooke, who's just back from college, and finally has the time, has begun to do some writing of her own as well.

I first started playing the baritone horn when I was 12. Previously, I "flunked" at piano and violin, but, for some reason, the horn worked out. When I was 13, I went to see the Glenn Miller story and was instantly inspired. Suddenly, I didn't want to play baritone anymore: I HAD to play trombone! So my dad got me a trombone, just like that. And then every Friday, he started bringing home jazz and big band records. It's crazy, but I was actually listening to my future employer, The Tommy Dorsey Band, from the get-go. I also loved Maynard Ferguson, Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller (obviously). And then through some sort of osmosis of listening to records, I actually started to play along with them.

You can't plan something like what happened to me. I got that trombone and I never looked back.

I spent about seven years on the road touring with the Tommy Dorsey Band. Then it was on to other acts like Les & Larry Elgart, The Jimmy Dorsey Band, Woody Herman and was Clark Terry’s first lead trombonist.

In 1968, I moved to Europe, married a Dutch record producer and worked on developing my songwriting and producing. I then wrote my biggest hit to date, "Boogie Woogie Woman" recorded by the band Livin' Blues in 1974.  

Pulin for Jazz, first aired in 1978. In conjunction with our foundation, we decided to begin broadcasting the show again.  The broadcast is aired internationally in 196 countries.  All shows are archived at 

The reason I've revived the show is to support early childhood jazz education. That's the most important thing to me right now. We're accepting donations and sponsorships, which will go toward allowing senior jazz mentors like myself to go into public schools and other places like to teach kids about the origin of jazz: where it started, who the pioneers were, etc. And we play some of the great, original jazz music, so the new young listeners become familiar with the sound.

The truth is I'm focusing on this because few others are. I think there is a basic musical illiteracy amongst our children right now, not only in the US, but the world. I don't agree with our kids being inundated with music that espouses violence, hostility, racism, drug usage, etc. and kids don't have any clue as to what else is actually out there. Good music education has to start early. We visit a lot of schools because it's important to get the word out.  Children and jazz are both on the endangered species list; I'm just trying to educate as many people as I can. Long live the children, and long live jazz!

The first time I present to a group, I do "Louis Armstrong 101"... because he's where it started, he's the common denominator, the stamp engraved on everyone that followed him. He is very funny, always smiling and his voice is amazing! The kids can't help but love Pops right away! They know nothing of his music and yet when they see Louis, they fall in love with him and they fall in love with jazz. I present him to adults, kids, anyone and everyone. I just turn on Louis Armstrong and I don't have to say another darn word!

I co-wrote a song with legendary jazz trumpeter, Clifford Brown, posthumously, entitled "La Rue." La Rue was his wife, and requested that I write lyrics to Clifford's instrumental version. Once she heard my lyric, she was touched and told me that somehow, uncannily; I had managed to write things only known to she and Clifford!

I'm relating to 60 years as a professional musician, so there are a lot of great moments. I played as the jazz trombone soloist in Tito Puente's band at the Monterrey Jazz Festival in 1977.

I was also chosen by Clark Terry to play in his inaugural big band as the lead trombonist. There were also some fabulous gigs in that 10 year European period, sandwiched between Clark and Tito, too!

I'm actually putting the finishing touches on the new book for kids called Hippo D. Hop. I wrote it for my daughters when they were little, but then recently I got together with an amazing illustrator and we decided to publish it! I can't tell you too much about it yet, but it's geared toward kindergarten through third grade and is intended to inspire kids to persevere, sort of like a modern "Little Engine That Could".

We also just wrote and recorded two new songs that will also be included on a cd with the book. It's really exciting!

Honestly, I'm always amazed by the things I'm still able to do with my life. People should think of it as their job to make the world a better place, it should be their priority. In my position, I'm attempting to rescue children and an art form, I spend much of my life working toward that goal. I'm just doing my part.

For a wide selection of Rich's music, check out his Reverbnation page -