Music News

Richie Cole

Richie Cole doesn't like to indulge in trade secrets, which is too bad, because he swears he can re-create a wild 18-piece big band solely through a four-horn arrangement. That's some kind of dexterity. "I've always had this sound in my head," says the legendary bebop alto saxophone player from Los Angeles. "Finally, about six or seven years ago, I got the time and the energy to go ahead and do it. I have 3,000 charts now for me and my band."

Cole is keeping himself relevant after nearly 50 years of playing with almost every giant on the jazz circuit, including Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton and Stan Getz. The Alto-Madness Orchestra, as he calls his latest outfit, is just one gestation. Another is his current venture, in which he and his wife are driving cross-country for an assortment of gigs, most, including his Phoenix stop, with just four pieces for traditional arrangements. In fact, Cole may be more active than ever he also writes symphonies for 80-piece orchestras, which celebrate the bumblebee sounds of the alto sax, of course.

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Christopher O'Connor