The Richard Shulman Group
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The Richard Shulman Group

Asheville, NC | Established. Jan 01, 1975 | INDIE

Asheville, NC | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1975
Band Jazz Fusion




"Album review: ‘Turned Into Lemonade’ by the Richard Shulman Group"

Posted on August 23, 2018 by Bill Kopp

MORE SWEET THAN SOUR: The fourth collection of original jazz from the Richard Shulman Group features 14 tunes in a mostly upbeat (yet understated) style.

Conveying a spirit of hope and optimism without the use of words is a challenging goal. But on Turned Into Lemonade, the latest from the prolific jazz/orchestral/new age composer Richard Shulman (he’s released more than two dozen albums), that ambitious goal is realized.

This all-original jazz outing is credited to the Richard Shulman Group: Shulman plays acoustic piano, backed by the lush yet understated musicianship of Rick Dilling (drums), Zack Page (bass) and Jacob Rodriguez (saxophones). Noted vocalist Wendy Jones lends her talents on three of the album’s 14 tracks. Shulman’s brief liner notes offer a bit of context for each tune, but in most cases, the vibe comes through without the need for additional explanation.

“Atmosphere” is carried by Rodriguez’s lovely, memorable and intimate saxophone melody; Shulman decorates the arrangement with subtle piano work, but he and the rhythm section largely leave open spaces for the sax lead. “I Claim My Day” has a quiet demeanor, with a hint of a hip, urbane (and urban) feel. The tune develops into more of a group arrangement as it unfolds. Throughout the album, bassist Page is the quiet engine of the quartet; he moves the music forward in such an understated fashion that it’s easy to overlook his important contribution; listen closely and don’t make that mistake.

As he mentions in his album notes, Shulman’s “In Between the Blue and Green” is an older composition that went unused for more than three decades because the composer felt it too much like Bill Evans’ immortal “Blue in Green,” first heard on Miles Davis’ landmark 1959 LP Kind of Blue. While there does exist a surface similarity, Shulman needn’t have worried; there’s a vibrant, uptempo feel to his work that recalls Vince Guaraldi at least as much as Evans.

Wendy Jones begins the emotive ballad “The Gifts You Gave to Me” unaccompanied; it’s a breathtaking and highly effective approach for the torchy tune that recalls some of Barbra Streisand’s best work. Rodriguez judiciously inserts brief responsive phrases to Jones’ vocal lines. The soulful, vaguely bossa nova stylings of “For Mom” need little explanation beyond the title; again, it’s Rodriguez who’s the star here, with his breathy and supple melodic lines.

“No Matter What They Say” seems to follow on seamlessly from “For Mom,” working almost as a medley. Initially, the piano melody of “Homage to Pharoah” has a Bob James feel, but Jones’ wordless vocals — often in lockstep with Rodriguez’s sax — take the song somewhere else entirely. Shulman opens up and takes an extended solo, and it’s a thing of grace and beauty. Rodriguez’s solo on the extended piece is equally impressive.

The composer describes “It’s All Inside” as a musical prayer, and it’s built around a simple yet elegant melodic line delivered on saxophone. Rodriguez is front and center for the entirety of this tune. “Finding Peace” is the last of three songs on Turned Into Lemonade to feature Jones. The track features an introspective lyric delivered in impeccable fashion. Dilling’s brush work gives a soulful, swaying vibe to the song; Shulman’s delicate piano lines are the perfect complement to Jones’ vocals.

The loping and playful “Buried Diamond” represents another old tune that Shulman dusted off and completed for his latest album. One suspects he was listening to a lot of Guaraldi in the early ’80s And that’s not a bad thing; not at all. The title track applies cool jazz style to what’s essentially a pop melody. Some carefully placed stops and starts add nice texture, while Rodriguez’s soprano saxophone dances around the upper register.

Brazilian textures dominate “Sunny Samba,” easily the most uptempo track on Turned Into Lemonade. Rodriguez and Shulman take turns soloing, and the joy the quartet is experiencing radiates through the entirety of the nearly six-minute tune. It’s followed by another samba, the faster and very different “Write Again.”

The fourth album from the Richard Shulman Group concludes with “Nostalgia,” described by its composer as a duet with Rodriguez. The elegiac song is a lovely, melancholy meditation.

Flawlessly recorded at East Asheville’s Seclusion Hill Music, Turned Into Lemonadeis a sweet and gentle jazz collection, featuring crystalline performances by all involved.

Author, music journalist, historian, collector, and musician. His first book, “Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon,” published by Rowman & Littlefield, is available now. Follow me @the_musoscribe - Mountain Xpress

"Highly inventive original jazz The Richard Shulman Group – Turned into Lemonade"

Though this is my first review of Richard’s energetic jazz piano work, it’s actually his fourth original release… as I listen to tunes like the 5:01 “I Claim My Day“, it helps me to renew my spirit in most positive fashion… full of life & the living of it – to the MAX.

Joining Richard are some of the hippest jazz players on the planet… Jacob Rodriguez – tenor & soprano saxophones; Zack Page – bass; Rick Dilling – drums, and Wendy Jones doing vocals on tracks 4, 7 & 9… Wendy’s vocal on the 6:19 “Finding Peace” is (without question) one of the most comforting jazz vocals I’ve heard (yet) in 2018… a perfect match with the other players!

The highly-charged “Write Again” will have you up on your feet & swaying ’round the room… I totally dug Zack’s bass work on this one… excellent recording as well.

If truly “solid” jazz is what your ears are yearning for, you’ll find “In Between the Blue and Green” to be one of those tunes you’ll play over & over & over again… it’s “stuck” in “replay mode” on my iPhone playlists, to be sure… Richard’s piano on this track is right up-front & shows talent beyond compare.

I’m a lover of Latin-flavored jazz, to it was easy to decide on my personal favorite of the fourteen songs offered up for your listening pleasure… “Sunny Samba” is about as tasty as it gets… I think you can expect to be hearing this one on jazz stations across the nation – frequently!

I give Richard and his talented crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this lively and entertaining album. Get more information on the Rich Heart Music label page for the release. Rotcod Zzaj - By Dick Metcalf, editor, Contemporary Fusion Reviews – May 21, 2018

"Asheville jazzman Richard Shulman plays juicy 'Lemonade'"

“Turned into Lemonade” is the latest jazz album from The Richard Shulman Group, led by Asheville jazz composer and pianist Richard Shulman. They'll perform a CD release concert at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16 at White Horse Black Mountain.

Shulman wrote most of the pieces in the past few years but a few date from decades ago. The sweet waltz “Buried Diamond,” for example, was half-written in his 1983 notebook. Onstage, Shulman is joined by an expressive and inspired band, including Jacob Rodriguez on saxophone, Zack Page on bass and Rick Dilling on drums. Vocalist Wendy Jones joins the group for two beautiful ballads, “The Gifts You Gave to Me” and “Finding Peace,” and for an instrumental style vocalese on the 11-minute-plus tour-de-force, “Homage to Pharoah.”

Shulman, who started playing piano at age 7 in Niagara Falls, New York, where he grew up, has recorded 26 of his own albums as well as contributing to more than two dozen other recordings as composer, performer or producer. He has performed at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Art Park, the United Nations, the Kool Jazz Festival, The Amenia Peace Festival and a wide variety of other venues throughout North America and Europe.

While living in New York City, Shulman found himself on a spiritual search that lead him to meditation classes and to incorporate a meditative style into his music, creating many albums for healing and meditation.

Shulman has been part of the Asheville music scene since 1998. His 2002 project, "Camelot Reawakened: A Vision Fulfilled" was inspired by an inner visio and featured a 35-piece orchestra consisting of members of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, a choir, soloists and Shulman at the piano. The project also led to a stage musical, "A Dream of Camelot," presented in Asheville in 2011 and again in 2012.

This was followed by 2013's “Bliss of Being,” his first ensemble recording of music for healing and divine connection. Shulman is an adjunct instructor of jazz piano atUNC Asheville and music director at Unity of the Blue Ridge. In addition to the album “Turned into Lemonade,” he's working on a meditative album titled “A New Awareness: Music of the Twelve Rays,” a complement to the book "The Twelve Rays" by Michael G. Love.

Tickets to the show at the White Horse, at 105C Montreat Road in Black Mountain, are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Learn more at

In advance of the show, Shulman answered some questions for SCENE:

Question: I hear a lot of influences in your music. "Turned into Lemonade" is clearly a jazz album but it seems very lyrical and melodic. Can you talk about music that has inspired you?

A: The first jazz albums I ever heard were John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” and Miles Davis’ “Filles de Kilimanjaro.” Both made a huge impact on me. I next followed Miles’ musical stream to “In a Silent Way” and Coltrane’s stream into the ecstatic and devotional work of Pharoah Sanders. Track seven on our album, “Homage to Pharoah,” was written to honor the deep spiritual nourishment I found in Pharoah’s “The Creator has a Master Plan.”

I also found musical-spiritual nourishment from artists combining the European classical tradition with jazz, reflecting my own classical background, including Paul Winter and the group Oregon, Jan Garbarek with Keith Jarrett and Lyle Mays with Pat Metheny. The songs “Atmosphere,” “It’s All Inside,” and “Nostalgia” on the album reflect this stream of my writing.

Q: Were you also influenced by more “straight ahead” jazz?

A: Pianist Bill Evans was one of my greatest influences. One can see his influence in my live performances, where I often play songs from the Great American Songbook, as well as in some of my writing. A few years ago, I found an abandoned up tempo post-bop tune almost finished in my 1983 notebook. I had left it behind because of the similarity of some sections to Bill Evans’ beautiful ballad, “Blue in Green.” I realized it is a worthy tune in its own right, and I selected “In Between the Blue and Green” to be on the album.

Q: You are also known as composer of healing and meditation music. How did you get into this?

A: An injury early on in my jazz career led me to explore healing and meditation personally and through music, and this journey has informed my jazz as well. The jazz and meditative music balance each other. I love playing both. The meditative music helps me go very deeply into relaxation, and the jazz is more visceral and exciting. With jazz I get to be intensely present with the music and whoever I’m playing with. - Asheville Citizen-Times - Bruce Steele

"CD Review: Richard Shulman – Turned Into Lemonade"

O’s Notes: Pianist, composer Richard Shulman makes music to heal the listener! He’s based in Asheville, NC where his style is readily embraced. His quartet includes Jacob Rodriguez on saxophone, bassist Zack Page and Rick Dilling on drums. Most of the 14 songs are soothing, contemporary instrumentals except a few that feature vocalist Wendy Jones. We enjoyed her vocalese on “Homage to Pharaoh” and more traditional vocals on “Finding Peace”. While Turned into Lemonade is not all meditative music, it is certainly a relaxing session.

Oscar Groomes
O’s Place Jazz Newsletter
P.O. Box 38430
Charlotte, NC 28278 - Oscar Groomes O’s Place Jazz Newsletter


Turned into Lemonade - The Richard Shulman Group 2018
Sky Jazz - The Richard Shulman Trio 2009
Open Spaces - The Richard Shulman Group 1997
A Simple Gift - The Richard Shulman Group 1986
Solo Flight - Richard Shulman solo piano 1985 

Wonder - The Richard Shulman Group 1980



The Richard Shulman Group performs compositions of pianist/composer Richard Shulman as heard on their latest album, "Turned into Lemonade," and selections from the Great American Songbook.  "Turned into Lemonade" is melodic, harmonically inventive jazz influenced by Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Paul Winter, Oregon, Bill Evans and Jay Beckenstein.

The standard lineup of The Richard Shulman Group includes Jacob Rodriguez - saxophones, Richard Shulman - piano, Zack Page - bass, Rick Dilling - drums and Wendy Jones - vocals.  The group has recorded four albums with various personnel and has performed in NYC and Western NC.

Richard has recorded 26 albums of his original music which encompasses Jazz, Classical and Meditative styles. 

Shulman has performed at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Art Park, the United Nations, the Kool Jazz Festival, The Amenia Peace Festival and a wide variety of other venues throughout North America and in Europe.

Shulman has created over eighty pieces for jazz quartet as well as pieces for chamber ensembles, choir, and symphony orchestra. Commissions include a piece for the Amherst Saxophone Quartet, and “May Peace Prevail on Earth” for singers, symphony orchestra, three choirs, and jazz quartet for the World Peace Prayer Society. 

Born and raised in Niagara Falls, New York, he began piano lessons at age seven. As a teenager joined a rock band with future jazz artists Thom Rotella and Bobby Previte. Shulman graduated from the University of Rochester with a double-major BA in piano performance and psychology.

While in Rochester, Shulman studied jazz with Chuck Mangione and Marian McPartland at the Eastman School of Music. He continued his jazz studies with Frank Foster while getting his MA in musical composition at the State University of NY at Buffalo and recording his first jazz album, “Wonder.”

After moving to New York City, Shulman performed with groups such as Providence and Crossing Point; and recorded and performed with the acts Mr. Spats (Steve Evans, June Bisantz, Steve Swallow and Bob Moses), The Richard Reiter Swing Band and Bobby Previte (Lenny Pickett, Tom Varner & Dave Hofstra). The Richard Shulman Group played regularly in the New York area and recorded the albums A Simple Gift and Open Spaces, and Richard also released the solo jazz piano album “Solo Flight.”

In New York City, he found himself on a spiritual search which lead him to meditation classes which he began playing for. His spiritual immersion has informed all of his music since, both Jazz and Meditative. 

 While in NYC Shulman played in many venues including, Weil Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, Greene St., The Angry Squire, 55 Grand, The Village Gate, Visiones, West Boondock, The Bitter End, Hisae’s, Cousins(Brooklyn), and Arthur’s (Hoboken). Musicians he played with included Luther Rix, Marc Sganga, Charlie DesCarfino, Bill Evans (sax), Vinnie Bianchi, Walter Moorman, Drori Mondlak, David Gross, Jack Dryden, Martin Aubert, Lynn Seaton, Dore DiQuatro, Rob Bulkley, Jeff Van Nostrand, Warren Fioretti, Brad Gregory and the Vegas East Big Band, Michael Gaeta, Aaron Heick, Jack Bashkow, Arthur Kell, Mikko Mikkola, Ratzo Harris, and Ted Moore.

Since 1998 Shulman has been an active participant in the lively Asheville NC music scene, playing at many venues including the Isis Restaurant and Music Hall, the Biltmore Estate, White Horse Black Mountain, the Classic Wine Seller the Waynesville Arts Council, the Hendersonville Arts Council, Burntshirt Vineyards, and the Grove Park Inn. He works with three big bands on a regular basis, the Asheville Jazz Orchestra, The Greenville Jazz Collective Big Band and Russ Wilson’s Nouveau Passe Jazz Orchestra and has performed with many bands and musicians regionally. 

Shulman currently is an adjunct instructor of jazz piano at the University of North Carolina – Asheville and is music director at Unity of the Blue Ridge. He currently lives in Asheville, NC and performs and records regionally, nationally and internationally. 

Band Members