He is a drummer, percussionist, songwriter, music director and producer who grew up in Washington DC and took his further education at Milliken University, Illinois.
He played the drums from an early age and by the time he was at high school he knew he wanted to do that as a career. His love of jazz was also spawned in high school with his band director being a trumpet player and lending him jazz records to listen to and he carried this with him into college where he played in a jazz band as well as local rock bands.
He moved to Los Angeles, California, and was involved with the Big Band sound in the area and then in the early 1970s he performed his first gig with Jim Stafford. In the early 1980s he was part of the rock quartet Big Ric, which had one entry on the US chart at No. 91 with “Take Away”.
For the majority of the 1980s he was the drummer and music director for Barry Manilow and he would also take on those positions for the Broadway show Barry Manilow at the Gershwin. At the same time he was recording and touring with his own jazz-fusion group, Uncle Festive, and other bands.
When the 1990s began he decided to make a career move in the industry to concentrate on the field of promotion and production and went the Atlantic label to concentrate on promoting their Mesa/Bluemoon recordings. He would move to the jazz label Verve and concentrate on radio promotion, making his way to Vice President of Promotion where he would stayed until the merger that happened between Polygram and Universal, which would bring together the GRP label and Verve. Remaining with the company and still following his love and involvement with contemporary jazz he became the Vice President of A&R and he is often seen producing, supervising recordings and scouting and signing new talent.
He has been involved in the recordings and signings of many artists in the world of jazz music, including the saxophonist Mindi Abair, the pianist Jamie Cullum, the guitarist Jeff Golub, Susan Tedeschi, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole, the trumpeter Chris Botti and the band Spyrogyra, as well as striving to bring the world of more traditional jazz to a younger audience.
Big Ric recordings
Take Away (Bud Harner/John Pondel/Kevin DiSimone)
Here he is performing the drums on “Incognito” with Uncle Festive and The Elmhurst College Band…