Artist: Richard Sears

Album: Altadena

Release Date: 2016-09-09

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about the album

ALTADENA presents drummer Tootie Heath - the legendary hard-bop sideman - in his most assertive and dynamic performance on record to date. Commissioned in 2013 by the Los Angeles Jazz Society, this music was composed by rising star jazz pianist Richard Sears.

Richard and Tootie met in Los Angeles, and started working together in 2012. As Richard recalls, "at home, Tootie would play Ornette Coleman recordings, sing back every note, and recall stories about people like Don Cherry, Billy Higgins, and Yusef Lateef. Tootie was deeply involved with forward-thinking composers and improvisors during the 60's and 70's. Though some of that history is chronicled, this part of his playing is not fully recognized."

Taking it's name from the Southern California foothills where Tootie spent most of the last 40 years, "Altadena" is a five part suite that features Tootie in a dynamic and often free-form musical context, where his playing blurs between soloist and accompanist throughout.

about the artist

"Raised in the redwood splendor of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Brooklyn-based pianist Richard Sears is a rising force on the jazz scene who has distinguished himself as a fierce improviser and ambitious composer. His latest album "Skyline" (2015) came out on the Barcelona based label Fresh Sound Records, and the critically hailed trio session affirmed his status as a player of prodigious promise.

Over the past decade Sears has performed with some of jazz's most important figures, including Chick Corea, Joshua Redman, Eric Revis and Billy Hart (subbing for Ethan Iverson in Hart's celebrated quartet with Mark Turner and Ben Street). As a composer he's received commissions from the Aaron Copland Fund and the Los Angeles Jazz Society for a six-part suite in honor Albert "Tootie" Heath, which premiered with the drum legend at the 2013 Angel City Jazz Festival. A recording of the project featuring Heath and saxophonists Patrick Wolff and Steven Lugerner is slated for release in Aug. 2016 on Ropeadope Records.

Growing up in Los Gatos, he soaked up inspiration from the Bay Area's bountiful jazz offerings, and found mentors in piano masters like Smith Dobson and Geoffrey Keezer. Relocating to Los Angeles in 2005 to study at USC’s Thornton School of Music, he sought veteran improvisers, forging important relationships with Roy McCurdy, Azar Lawrence, Putter Smith, and most importantly Tootie Heath.

In 2012 while still in Los Angeles, Richard recorded a direct-to-disc LP for the indie label Stones Throw with drummer Louis Cole, of the band Knower, and multi-instrumentalist Sam Gendel, the guiding spirit behind psychedelic project INGA. Richard continues to maintain a deep musical engagement with his contemporaries, and in New York, performs regularly with peers such as saxophonists Roman Filiu and Ben van Gelder, bassist Martin Nevin, and drummer Craig Weinrib.

Presently, Richard keeps a busy schedule performing and teaching in the US and abroad. In April 2016, he gave a solo piano concert in Tangier for International Jazz Day, presented in conjunction with UNESCO and the US Embassy of Morocco. Richard was a featured performer and composer in residence for the 2015 JazzUV Festival Internacional in Xalapa Mexico. Currently, Richard serves on faculty at the New School for Contemporary Music in New York, and the Stanford Jazz Workshop in California."

- Andrew Gilbert