Rich Willey
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Rich Willey

Asheville, North Carolina, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1986 | SELF

Asheville, North Carolina, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1986
Band Jazz Funk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Rich Willey releases Gone With the Piggies"

“Rich Willey has assembled a terrific group of musicians to perform a well chosen as well as brilliantly performed repertoire of standards and original music. Rich displays originality, humor and a broad expanse of emotional depth in his writing and playing. Rich Willey is a young and inspired trumpeter/composer who is headed for high recognition in a world that is hungry for such ambition.”
— AL TRAINER, CAP records - CAP records

"Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau, concert review, Spindale, NC October 13, 2001"

"I'll take a couple moments to talk about Rich Willey. For those of you who were, like me, asking yourself if this guy can actually play, let me assure you - HE PLAYS! Rich was a soloist several times during the concert and came out with well-thought ideas and an individual style that shows he is his own player. His sound was free, and seemed to have no problem getting the trumpet to convey the ideas he had. The guy is the real deal - so you young players (and comeback players) take note when he posts to TPIN (Trumpet Players International Network)! He is out there doing it! The hall was dead, so I had trouble hearing the individual members of the band well during soli sections, but Rich seemed to be holding his own with some challenging stuff!"
- TIM PHILLIPS, lead trumpeter, performing artist - Tim Phillips,

"Rich Willey trumpet clinic in Huntsville, AL"

"I absolutely will endorse Rich and recommend him highly. He's a consummate gentleman, a great player, an excellent instructor and has a wonderful sense of humor. I feel quite privileged to be able to know him and call him a friend."
- BILL MIRRIELEES, Asbury Brass Ensemble, Wild Bunch Dixieland Jazz Band, Ovation Arts Orchestra - Bill Mirrielees,

"Michael Abene critiques Rich Willey's CD"

“Rich Willey studied Jazz Composition with me and I feel I’ve gotten to know him pretty well. I really enjoyed the charts he did for this CD, his original Eyes All For You, based on the changes to Body and Soul and done as a waltz, Gone With the Wind and even Melancholy Baby! I think you will enjoy this CD.”
— MICHAEL ABENE, arranger, composer, faculty member at Manhattan School of Music - Boptism Music Publishing

"Trombonist Rick Simerly performs with Rich Willey"

“Rich is not only a prodigious trumpet talent but also a remarkable composer and arranger.”
— RICK SIMERLY, Conn/Selmer artist, Jamey Aebersold clinician - Boptism Music Publishing

"Ted Rosenthal on Rich Willey's arrangements and style"

“Rich’s arrangements are thoughtful and swinging. His bass trumpet sound and style really knocks me out.”
— TED ROSENTHAL, jazz pianist, clinician, faculty member at The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music - Boptism Music Publishing

"Byron Stripling calls Rich Willey an inspiration"

“Rich Willey is an inspiration. His lines bubble . . . his sound is smooth to the touch. Rich had me popping my fingers and begging for more!”
— BYRON STRIPLING, recording and performing artist, former lead trumpeter and soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra - Boptism Music Publishing

"Michael Abene on trumpeter Rich Willey"

“Rich Willey’s trumpet playing and his use of bass trumpet is especially refreshing. A no-nonsense player.”
— MICHAEL ABENE, jazz pianist, arranger, composer, faculty member at Manhattan School of Music, NYC - Boptism Music Publishing

"Claudio Roditi's endorsement"

“Rich Willey is a wonderful instrumentalist and jazz composer.”
— CLAUDIO RODITI, world-renowned trumpeter, composer, recording artist - Boptism Music Publishing


Rich Willey: Gone With The Piggies (2002)
Rich Willey and Boptism (1998)
Boptism: New York Debut (1992)



RICH WILLEY, trumpet and bass trumpet, bandleader, freelancer, composer/arranger - As both a player and composer/arranger, Rich Willey is firmly rooted in the jazz tradition. His trumpet playing draws upon the wellspring of bebop with a contemporary freshness; brash and forceful, but also lyrical and warm. His compositions and arrangements are thoughtful and substantial, combining a solid sense of swing with an overriding concern for melody. Rich's playing took on an even broader range of colors when he became one of only a select few jazz trumpeters to add the bass trumpet -- a unique instrument with the range of a trombone but the bright timbre of a trumpet -- to his musical palette.

A Florida native, Rich was active on the Philadelphia and New York scenes from the mid 1980's to the early 1990's, handling a wide range of Latin and jazz gigs, most notably backing up and recording with legendary vocalist Mel Torme. He attended North Texas State University and later returned to Florida where he earned a bachelors degree in music education from the University of South Florida, founded the Gulf Coast Jazz Society in Dunedin, and performed regularly in the Greater Tampa Bay area. Rich returned to NYC in 1999, earning his masters degree in jazz performance/trumpet at the renowned Manhattan School of Music where he studied with Byron Stripling, Gary Dial, and Mike Abene. He spent the fall of 2001 on tour playing second trumpet, the challenging jazz chair, with trumpet giant Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau.

Rich has released three CD's, among them Gone With the Piggies (CAP records), a striking collection of brilliantly conceived and impeccably performed tracks, including four of his own distinctive compositions. He is the owner of Boptism Music, which offers an impressive array of his over 30 books including jazz duets, jazz etudes, jazz improv development books, trumpet and trombone method books, as well as his jazz combo and big band arrangements. He is a devoted student of the late Dr. Donald S. Reinhardt, and has put back into print many of Reinhardt's original method books.

Rich has performed with many great musicians, including Maynard Ferguson, Lionel Hampton, Hank Mobley, Don Patterson, Buddy Morrow, Bob Haggart, Dick Hyman, Claudio Roditi, Chris Potter, Conrad Herwig, John Swana, Bob Mintzer, Kenny Drew Jr., Brad Mehldau, Mel Torme, Bobby Sanabria, Harry Allen, Bill Mobley, Dave Stahl, Jack Jones, Shirley Jones, The Inkspots, Skitch Henderson, Tommy Flanagan, Tony Randall, Andrea McCardle, Debbie Boone, and many others. 

Rich has been leading bands since 1986. In its present-day incarnation, The Rich Willey Jazz Bands have played at Asheville's Bele Chere, Greenville's Jazz on Main Street and Artisphere, UNC-Asheville's Concert on the Quad series, Furman University's Concerts By The Lake series, along with many other venues, private gigs and educational settings.

Rich and his wife Janet live in beautiful Asheville, NC, where he performs regularly throughout the southeast as a freelance musician, bandleader and clinician.

Band Members