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Sue Richardson

Sue Richardson © Brian O'Connor


When Jazzwise magazine asked a number of people to predict who to look out for in 2008, Alex Webb from the Barbican picked Sue Richardson for her big-toned, melodic trumpet playing.

Sue is one of a few female singer/trumpet/flugel horn players worldwide. As a child, she wanted to learn the clarinet - 'all the cool girls at school played clarinet' - but it was her mother, knowing that the school big band was particularly good and would need trumpet players, who persuaded Sue to take up the trumpet.

She grew to love big band music at school and so 'anything that swings always grabs my attention'. From a singer's point of view, Sue thinks Ella Fitzgerald is 'sublime', and her trumpet playing is highly infuenced by Chet Baker and Clifford Brown. '(Clifford Brown) can make something so complicated sound so easy.'Photo1 of Sue Richardson Others that she admires include Miles Davis, Blue Mitchell, Sarah Vaughan and Carole King. 'The musicians I enjoy today are the ones who really communicate with their audience and really put themselves into a performance. I hate going to a gig and feeling that people aren't really trying, however great they are.'

Photograph by Lesley Aggar

Since leaving school Sue has toured the world. She sang at The Last Night Of The Proms some years ago and on a rap CD for a top South Korean Night Club, and you can even hear her recorded version of 'The Girl From Ipanema' being played in Rio in the famous bar where the song was written. She went to New Orleans after the hurricane Katrina had devastated the town and was there for the first Mardi Gras after the traumatic event. For her it was not only a pilgrimage, but one the great highlights of her career. She looks back on playing 'Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans' at a jam session on Frenchman Street with Uncle Lionel and Glen Andrews from the Treme Brass Band as a particularly special experience.

Sue has been playing in many UK venues in recent years including the Purcell Room, 606 Jazz Club, Birmingham Jazz Festival, Wakefield Jazz, Medway Jazz and The Stables, Wavendon. In 2002 she was chosen as a finalist at the Marion Montgomery Jazz Diva Awards.

Sue RichardsonIn November 2007, Sue launched her new CD 'Emergence' (Splash Point Records) at the 606 Jazz Club and a few days later, she and her band opened the London Jazz Festival at the Royal Albert Hall. By December 2007, the CD was reviewed on Radio 3's Jazz Line Up and enough people wrote in to Jazz Record Requests for it to be played there as well.

Sue Richardson © Brian O'Connor


Sue's travels through Rio De Janeiro, New Orleans and Havana provided the inspiration for the tunes 'I.O.U.', 'Spotted Cat' and 'I Just Can't Help Myself' on the new album, although the title track for 'Emergence' was written some years ago. The ballad 'Eclipse' was written when her new custom-made trumpets arrived from Eclipse, a company in Bedfordshire where she grew up. 'I just love the mellow sounds that the horns make and yet they spit out fast and furious notes too.' The track 'Spare Ribs' was dedicated to her father after he had fallen from a ladder and was lying in bed with six broken ribs!

Sue's band for that album included Andy Drury (guitar), Neal Richardson (piano), Jeremy Brown (bass), Matt Skelton (drums) and Sue (Eclipse trumpet), and some of the lyrics to her songs are written by Matt Henkes.

You can listen to snatches of Sue's playing and find out more about her by clicking on, or at Splash Point Music.

Since Humphrey Lyttelton died in 2008, His band has played on with a number of guest musicians, including Sue. Information about Humph's band can be found by clicking here. Sue has also played trumpet with vocalist Ian Shaw on Humph's Sad Sweet Song. The Humphrey Lyttelton website said: 'It's a beautiful melancholy ballad that Humph had specifically asked Ian to record ...'. The number was recorded at Splash Point studios, and Ian invited Sue to play trumpet in tribute to Humph. As a result, it was performed at the BBC Jazz Awards in July 2008, and it was the recording that prompted Humph's band to invite Sue to gig with them.

Click here to see Sue playing her composition 'Eclipse'

In 2011 Sue followed up the album Emergence with a new album, Fanfare.

Featuring Andy Williams and Andy Drudy on guitar, Neal Richardson (piano), George Trebar (double bass) and Sam Glasson (drums) here are 14 original songs that 'take the listener from samba to blues, swing to rock and New Orleans to modern jazz'. Sue says: 'It's Sue Richardson Fanfare albumbasically a fanfare of jazz, so I'm trying to take lots of different genres of jazz and use those to influence my writing, which I've done over the last year or so. But I've written in a different way. I've had a baby since my last album so I don't have the time to write in the same way that I did which was locking myself in the studio with a piano. So a lot of it has been thought out in my head and then worked out onto paper and developed in rehearsals.'

Sue's full trumpet sound is always a real pleasure to hear as is her singing on several of the numbers - listen to extracts through the sample link below.

Fanfare was released on Splash Point Records in February 2011.

Click here to sample tracks from the album.

In September 2011 Sue Richardson was invited to Paris to record a blues CD with tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp and his protégé, French singer Mina Agossi. The album, will be released in February 2012 with concerts in Paris and later in the year in London. Archie Shepp described Sue's bluesy big trumpet playing saying: 'She Sue Richardson Archie Shepp and Mina Agossisure can growl!'

Sue Richardson, Archie Shepp and Mina Agossi

Born in Florida in 1937, but raised in Pennsylvania, Archie has played with Cecil Taylor and John Coltrane and many others. For thirty years from 1971, he was Professor of Music at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In 2004 Archie Shepp founded his own record label, Archieball, together with Monette Berthomier. The label is located in Paris, France, and features collaborations with Jacques Coursil, Monica Passos, Bernard Lubat and Frank Cassenti. Click here for more about Archie Shepp.

Click here for a video of a very distinctive version of 'I Won't Dance' by Mina Agossi.

In 2012, Sue was featured on a track of Ian Shaw's wonderful album A Ghost In Every Room, a ttribute to the lyricist Fran Landsman. Click here to listen to All The Sad Young Men.

In 2013 Sue moved on to a new project Too Cool, a show about Chet Baker. 2013 sees the 25th Anniversary of Chet's death and Sue has written this biographical show with rare compositions by Chet, his most famous tunes, and new material by Sue Richardson Too Cool albumSue herself. Sue introduced the show with Karen Sharp on baritone sax at the Wooburn Festival on 29th September 2012.

An album with entitled Too Cool was released in May 2013. Of the 12 tracks on the album there are four rare titles by Chet Baker with the Italian lyrics translated by Georgia Mancio, and five original compositions by Sue Richardson that reflect the Chet Baker style. Click here to sample one of them, On A Moonbeam.

The recording is good and the variety in the track sequence well thought out. There are also fine contributions from guests Karen Sharp on baritone sax and Andy Drudy on guitar. Neal Richardson (who produced the album) is on piano, George Trebar is the bass player, and Rod Youngs is in the drum seat.

I particularly like the pairing of Sue and Karen Sharp on the tracks All Through The Night (Sue Richardson composition) and Chet Baker's Chetty's Lullaby, and Sue's interpretation of MySue Richardson Funny Valentine is captivating and memorable, a track that will stay on my personal playlist.

The album supports Sue Richardson’s recent UK tour also entitled Too Cool that tells Chet Baker’s story, the highs and the lows, and which includes many of his famous songs. The narrative for the show has been developed in association with actress and theatre director Sylvia Syms, and with help from James Gavin, Chet Baker’s official biographer. The show is due to travel to Europe in the autumn (we shall let you have the dates and venues when we have them). Click here Sue Richardsonfor more about the show.

Writing in The Observer, Dave Gelly said: 'Sue Richardson's trumpet playing catches (Chet Baker's) combination of delicacy and strength, and her singing has something of his candid simplicity. She even writes the kind of tunes that he might have invented.' By July, the album had been a featured item on itunes, and Clive Davis was writing in the Sunday Times: '...... This tribute by the British trumpeter Sue Richardson is elequent, too, the baritone saxophonist Karen Sharp taking the Gerry Mulligan role on Anticipated Blues and some spry originals. Richardson's supple vocals are certainly an asset: if Baker's own singing voice was winningly fragile, she supplies just the right amount of gloss to My Funny Valentine.'

Click here for a video of Sue performing My Funny Valentine at Seven Arts in Leeds, and click here for the track list and to sample the album.

Click here for a video of Sue playing Chet Baker's Anticipated Blues at Ronnie Scott's club in 2013.


© Sue Richardson / Ian Maund 2008-2015

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