Rich Perry has been living and performing in New York City since 1976. His beautiful tone and sophisticated harmonic conception have given him a unique creative voice which critics have described as “eloquent,” “inventive,” “thoughtfully lyrical” and “impassioned yet cerebral.”
Born in 1955 in Cleveland, Ohio, Perry became interested in jazz in high school, and studied briefly at Bowling Green State University, before moving to New York. In 1977 he joined the Thad Jones /Mel Lewis Orchestra—which at that time included Pepper Adams, Jerry Dodgion, Rufus Reid, and Harold Danko—and spent the next two years touring the U.S. and Europe. After Thad Jones left the band, Perry continued playing with Mel Lewis, recording three LPs with him, including Live in Montreux and Naturally. With Perry as a key member, the band is now known as The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and continues to tour and record. Three of their recent CDs have been nominated for Grammy awards.
A highlight of Perry’s career has been his association with the gifted composer and arranger Maria Schneider. As a charter member of her orchestra, Perry has been featured on all of her CSs including Allegresse, Coming About, Evanesence, and the Grammy award winning Concert In The Garden. Her latest recording, Sky Blue, features "Rich’s Piece," a beautiful composition written for him. He has performed with her in Europe, Asia, and throughout the U.S.
He has maintained a long-term friendship and collaboration with Harold Danko, begun during their days with Thad Jones/Mel Lewis. It has resulted in Perry’s CDs To Start Again, Cancoes do Brasil, At Eastman, East Of The Sun, Rhapsody, You're My Everything and At The Kitano, Vol. 1., as well Danko’s CDs Prestigious, Nightscapes, Stablemates, Tidal Breeze, New Autumn, The Feeling of Jazz, Next Age, and Oatts & Perry.
Perry has recorded extensively for SteepleChase. The 21 CDs he has recorded as a leader have featured such greats as George Mraz, Fred Hersch, Victor Lewis, Dennis Irwin, Scott Colley, Billy Hart, Frank Kimbrough, Jay Anderson, Renee Rosnes, Billy Drumond, George Colligan, and Tom Rainey. Perry is also a member of the Dave Scott Quintet, the Peter Brendler Quartet, the Matt Panayides Quartet, the George Mraz Quartet, with Richie Beirach and Billy Hart and the John Fedchock New York Big Band. He has also played in several groups led by the pianist Fred Hersch.
Perry is a skilled instructor of jazz improvisation and is on the faculty of William Paterson University, New York University, and The Manhattan School Of Music. He has led clinics and workshops at schools in the U.S. and abroad including The University of North Texas, The Eastman School of Music, Northern Iowa State University, University Of Oregon, IACP, Paris, and the AMR in Geneva, Switzerland. His reputation as a personable and experienced private instructor has brought him students from all over the world.