If you don’t know the alto saxophonist Richie Cole, a New Jersey native who left us in 2020, please listen to these two examples of his work. First, joyously playful:
Here, making a well-worn ballad both entrancing and swinging:
A passionate approach grounded in the great traditions but stamped with his own personality. Please enjoy the video announcing the concert (fine work by Mike Salvatore) and if you are nearby, be sure to come by. The Sanctuary has wonderful acoustics and a lovely ambiance.
And the details of the concert — Richie’s ALTO MADNESS band with sitters-in invited — are in the video:
Richie was not only a sweet soulful player; he was a sweet soulful person. My friend Richard Salvucci, a wise jazz listener and writer, encountered Richie in person:
I guess it was around the summer of 2000 when I was in London for research work. Our kids were with us. So we took every opportunity to take them to museums, concerts, whatever. I was especially happy because there was a lot of jazz around London, and I could take Martin to hear people like Lou Donaldson, Warren Vache, and Ralph Sutton. We didn’t know Richie was gonna be in town until we stumbled on an advert for a new club (run by a singer whose name I can’t recall). I jumped and told Martin we’re gonna go have some fun.
Cole was with a local rhythm section that he seemed to be having a few problems with, but he played superbly. The club was, alas, hardly full, so we got a good seat at the fifty yard line. When you get to hear Cole doing Cherokee (in B), you just smile. He was wonderful. On a break, he walked around to the tables to chat with people (including his then wife, I think!). When he came over to us, Martin, then about 12, was agog. He told Richie he was learning trumpet, and Cole asked him whom he liked. “Miles,” whose “So What” solo he was learning by heart. Well, Cole asked him which Miles, early or late? We sort of said Martin was getting tuition in the real Miles, which amused Cole. I asked him if he was from Trenton, NJ, and he seemed surprised. He wasn’t surprised when I said I was from Philly–my “correct” pronunciation of Trenton gave it away. I guess we must have chatted for 10 minutes. Richie couldn’t have been nicer, and my impression was he talked to most everyone.
He was a wonderful player and a wonderful guy.
For those who like their details on the half-shell with only a squeeze of lemon, the 1867 Sanctuary is at 101 Scotch Rd, Ewing Township, New Jersey 08628-2501: 2 PM on Sunday, May 1 — and here’s more:
A tribute concert to the legendary jazz saxophonist and Trenton native Richie Cole. Event presented by Richie Cole’s family.
Please join us to celebrate Richie Cole’s music, life and legacy!
Members of Richie’s jazz group will be performing a diverse lineup of Richie’s music. The show will end with a very special farewell from Richie Cole, himself! If you play an instrument or sing, come sit in!
Vince Lardear – Alto sax
Pete Lauffer – Piano, vocals
John Sheridan, Electric guitar
Chris Clark – Bass
Joe Falcey – Percussion
Limited seats! Tickets can be purchased prior to the event, as well as at the door, if tickets are still available.
Looking forward to an amazing event – Alto Madness style!
Doors: 2 PM – memorial hour // Show: 3 PM
Please reach out to Annie Cole with any questions or if you would like to coordinate purchasing tickets directly: firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds go to the musicians and to preserving Richie Cole’s music and other works.
Thanks to Bob Kull, Annie Cole, and Richard Salvucci, who made the concert and this post possible. Inevitable, even!
May your happiness increase!