November 15, 1920 — June 23, 2000
Jerome Richardson’s point of origin was on the other side of the North American continent–Oakland, California, to be exact.
Jerome started on alto saxophone at the age of eight. In his teens Benny Carter, Johnny Hodges and Willie Smith were his ideals. Through local musicians, Ben Watkins and Wilbert Baranco, he became a professional at the age of fourteen and worked with Bay Area bands until 1941, during which time he also studied music at San Francisco State College. The flute was added to his working equipment in 1940. Both this and his alto sax were used to advantage in a Navy band, under the direction of Marshall Royal, at St. Mary’s Pre-Flight from 1942 to 1945.
Jerome’s first “name” job was with Lionel Hampton from 1949 to 1951; his first recorded flute solo was on Hamp’s version of Quincy Jones’ “Kingfish.” At the end of 1951, he took up the tenor saxophone and for the next year and part of 1953 headed his own combo (among its members was George Morrow, heard on bass with Max Roach in the mid-fifties) in San Francisco. Then he joined Earl Hines’ small band, which included Dicky Wells on trombone, for a year on the road, leaving him in 1954 and coming to New York.
Richardson was heard at the Cafe Bohemia in the summer of 1955 with Oscar Pettiford’s group. Starting in October of that year, Jerome fronted his own quartet at Minton’s with a very fine rhythm section of Hank Jones, Wendell Marshall and Shadow Wilson. In December he started working in the pit orchestra at the Roxy and doubled between the club and that theater. The job at Minton’s ended on January 1, 1956 but Jerome stayed on at the Roxy until February of 1958. Later in ’58, he was in the studio band for the TV version of The Hit Parade.
While he was at the Roxy and in TV, Jerome kept his jazz muscles toned by recording and appearing with many different bands at New York’s jazz spots. When Buddy Collette was unable to come east with Chico Hamilton, Jerome replaced him for the quintet’s Basin Street appearance in May of 1956. Subsequently he was heard with Oscar Pettiford’s orchestra and, at various times, as a replacement in the big bands of Johnny Richards, Manny Albam, and Dizzy Gillespie.
Tenor sax and flute have been the focal instruments in his jazz work but he also played a convincing baritone sax at the 1958 Great South Bay Jazz Festival and at years end, 1958, he helped augment Gerry Mulligan’s quartet with his alto sax and alto flute in concert and TV presentations of the music from I Want To Live.