Biography

Richard Hart is more than just a jazz guitarist, Richard is the consummate musician. In a career that spans over four decades, he has proven himself a versatile composer, arranger and producer in many different musical styles and contexts. In addition to crafting a fine discography of his own, his resume’ also includes music for commercial jingles and independent film scores. Whatever your musical tastes in music media entertainment, chances are good that you’ve have had at least a passing acquaintance with the work of Richard Hart.

Hart grew up in a suburb just outside of Los Angeles, CA and a perfect environment for a young person with an interest in music. The area was home to many artists who worked in the city, as well as a center for many arts and performance education programs. It was there, at the age of 15 that Hart decided to start playing guitar. Self-taught for several years, he began working with local bands in the area when he was 16, playing dances at local high schools, college gigs and eventually throughout the Southern California area. These early teenage years marked Hart’s first exposure to jazz, and he made a decision then that in order to reach the level of technical skill that he had been striving for; he would need to study music formally.

Along with mentors such as Chuck Datillo, an ABC television studio session percussionist/vibraphonist/composer and performer of the theme music for the TV series “Mod Squad”, written by Earle H. Hagen, the Emmy Award-winning television composer who wrote the memorable theme music for "The Andy Griffith Show," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "I Spy". Mr. Datillo’s persistence in having Richard listen to the jazz guitar greats to learn, listen and absorb the styles and interpretations of Barney Kessel; Joe Pass; Wes Montgomery; Charlie Christian; John McLaughlin; Larry Coryell and many others. In late 1974 Hart enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and went to Lackland AFB, TX. During the 6 weeks there, Hart was given the opportunity to have base liberty at the airmen’s club.

He found out quickly that they had electric guitars and amps you could check out and play in a small practice room. He played for hours – losing track of all time, he was late returning back to the barracks. There standing was his drill sergeant, an African-American tapping his foot, and yelled, “Where the hell have you been airman Hart,” Hart replied, “Playing jazz guitar sir.” The drill sergeant replied back, “I don’t know any white jazz guitar players, you better not be lying to me, I’ll see you in the morning.” It was a rude awakening the next morning, the drill sergeant marched me down the airmen’s club on a Saturday morning. He told Hart to get a guitar & amp, then the sergeant sat down popped the tab on a cold can of beer and ordered him to start playing some of that “supposed jazz music you know.” It took Hart a few minutes to gather his thoughts and composure. He began playing jazz guitar comps from artists such as Herbie Hancock; Chick Corea; Buddy Miles and West Montgomery riffs. The sergeant smiled finished his beer and said, “Your good man, don’t stop playin, but you better be back at the barracks by 1700 hours.” Soon other airman who played other instruments joined in the jam session.

After basic training Hart was stationed at Mather AFB, CA and shortly thereafter entered the local base talent contest and won 1st place in the Instrumentalist-Guitar category and went on to the Air Training Command competition at Biloxi, MS, to compete against 23 other instrumental acts where he took 3rd place in 1975. In 1979, Hart still in the USAF, teamed up with guitarist Joe Kondziella in Ogden, Utah and began performing as jazz duet throughout the Intermountain West in local clubs and restaurants.

One night while performing in Salt Lake City, UT, Tom Scott jazz saxophonist with his group the L.A. Express was having dinner and heard Hart & Kondziella and asked Hart if he could send a demo recording to the concert promoter who was handling his tour thru the state, Hart did so immediately thanking him for his interest. He later was contacted and booked to open for Tom Scott. On November 3, 1979 was the beginning of Hart’s professional sojourn as a jazz guitarist – an opening act for Tom Scott & The L.A. Express at Weber State College in Ogden, Utah and on November 10, 1979 opened again at Utah State University, both venues sold out and a standing ovation encore to return to the stage at both venues. Hart was given passes to the final leg of the tour in Utah at the Salt Lake Symphony Hall where legendary jazz drummer Tony Williams & Lifetime were opening for Tom Scott on November 11, 1979.

The morning of the performance scheduled Hart got a call from the concert promoter stating that Tony Williams was unable to perform due to illness and that Tom Scott had asked if Hart would do the opening act with him again. Hart opened to a full house, just one day before Hart’s 24th birthday, quite a birthday gift that he shall never forget. Hart continued performing local venues until he was honorably discharged in December 1980 and moved to Oklahoma. 1981 he was writing & arranging new original tunes with local musicians he had met.

Hart thru a chance meeting of a friend’s relative met with jazz keyboardist Larry Pierce, formerly of Blood, Sweat & Tears – living in Tulsa, OK and the two of them met in Elk City, OK along with the other musicians to rehearse for an upcoming performance. They gave a concert performance as Richard Hart & Swans Down featuring Larry Pierce at the Susan Powell Fine Arts Auditorium of live jazz music for just over 100 people. Hart recorded his first demo of original jazz compositions in 1989 with his group Swan’s Down on the Schepora label.

In 1990, Hart was asked to join the Western Oklahoma Community Television Network as the Musical Director, creating musical background music for pilot TV shows as well as local interest programming, further honing his skills for future endeavors. In 1993 Hart had moved back to Utah and became faculty member of the prestigious Tuacahn Center for the Performing Arts located in Ivins, Utah. This 23 million dollar facility encompassed all the arts and Hart was given the task to teach guitar studies and draft and write a curriculum for the facility averaging over 25-30 students privately per week. It was 1994 during his tenure at Tuacahn that Hart opened at a major jazz festival with his quartet for the multi-grammy jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, (original keyboardist for John Coltrane)his trio featuring bassist Avery Sharpe; and percussionist Aaron Scott. Jazz great Ron Eschete Trio featuring Paul Humphries on drums and Todd Johnson on bass were also present. It was the following year 1995, Hart again with his quartet took to the stage as opening act at the jazz festival with his friend who had given him his first professional break, none other than Tom Scott.

The Ron Eschete Trio and the renowned and consummate jazz vocalist Mr. Mel Torme’. Hart moved back to California becoming a guitar instructor and faculty member of the Antelope Valley Music School. Hart’s steady clientele of over 30 students per week of all different skills, styles and abilities with monthly performance recitals, continued to develop a great appreciation for the power of music education in youth towards their self-esteem. In 2004, Hart began his new project of original material for a new cd release. Gathering jazz saxophonist Ron Munn; Dorothy Soto – bassist; and percussionist Mark Winkel formed his new quartet rehearsing and then recording the 2005 release of “Fearless Shores” on Schepora IRL label. Shortly thereafter, Hart’s quartet went to Oklahoma to perform at the Charlie Christian International Jazz Festival in Oklahoma City in June of 2005 with other great acts such as Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown. Eight months later Hart was introduced to V.P./A&R Adam Leibovitz of Innervision Records in California. Mr. Leibovitz heard the cd “Fearless Shores” and contacted Richard Hart by phone to sign him on the spot to a 3 year contract to put “Fearless Shores” under his label in Feb 2007.

In 2009, Richard started with all new musicians in Oklahoma performing throughout Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle. Hart was approached by an acquaintance on a flight from Las Vegas to Amarillo about his jazz recordings and was told that a guy by the name of Tim Grace with GAG Order Films was looking for that kind of music for an independent film they were doing down in FT. Worth, TX. So Hart contacted Tim Grace and Mr. Grace asked for the recording of “Fearless Shores” with the 9 songs for his consideration. Months went by, and then Tim Grace sent an email requesting Richard sign mechanical licensing agreements for 7 of the 9 songs to be used in the upcoming release of “The Lawn Boy”. The Lawn Boy was released on DVD in 2011 worldwide for distribution. In 2010,

Richard Hart released his new cd on Slowernickels Records “Blue Swing” with original saxophonist Ron Munn and other session players.The title cut “Blue Swing” has been played on internet radio in over 83 countries with over 10,560 spins in the first 16 weeks after its release. The latest release celebrates the importance of the human element in the creative process. “In a world of constantly changing technology & doing things long distance,” says Hart, - “It still amazes me when you put the live musicians into the mix, it is their personal interaction that brings the music to life.” The idea behind the cd title “Blue Swing” – shows the effect that an individual’s personality has on the music, both in the context of a recording and in a live setting encompassing all the emotions in-between. – Richard Hart