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Steph Richards

Steph Richards website
for biography, video, audio, photos, discography and news.

AKAMU representation: worldwide exclusivity
For info and costs please contact Alberto Lofoco

• projects as a leader •


Steph Richards - trumpet, flugelhorn
Qasim Naqvi - drums

As one of the most exciting artists working in jazz's avant-garde, Steph Richards is no stranger to challenging listeners' expectations with experiments that range from playing underwater to incorporating scent, video and movement. An "emerging maestro of extended technique" (New York Times), Steph is dedicated to open and collaborative improvisation and spontaneous musical prose. She has worked with pioneers ranging from Henry Threadgill to Anthony Braxton, John Zorn and Laurie Anderson. Her work as a soloist has been heralded as inventive, ingenious and mesmerizing.
Hailed as a "bold pronouncement" (NPR) for Richards' debut record, Fullmoon is an electro-exploration of trumpet and resonating vibrations. Richards is acoustically manipulating her horn against resonating percussion surfaces in conversation with analog synth musician and drummer Qasim Naqvi (of the band Dawn of Midi). Fullmoon is a supernatural sonic exploration of timbre and groove. Live projections by the artist Cossa are also available.


Steph Richards - trumpet, flugelhorn, resonating drums/water and composition
Joshua White - piano
Max Jaffe - drums

Zephyr explores the sonic and visual territory of water. With her trumpet playing inside various water vessels, the music centers on concepts of metamorphoses. Live performances can include film projections by filmmaker Vipal Monga. The record debuts October 2021 on Relative Pitch Records.

Steph Richards "Power Vibe"

Steph Richards - trumpet, flugelhorn, resonating drums/water and composition
Joshua White - piano
Stomu Takeishi - fretless five-string electric bass
Max Jaffe - drums

Steph Richards "Supersense"

Steph Richards - trumpet, flugelhorn, resonating drums/water and composition
Jason Moran - piano
Stomu Takeishi - fretless five-string electric bass
Kenny Wollesen - drums and wollesonics

Steph Richards composes music in conversation with abstract scents uniquely designed to accompany the music. Audiences can enjoy an inter-sensorial experience with scratch and sniff scented concert programs and be saturated in a flurry of free funk and experimental exploration.

• projects as a sideman •

Henry Threadgill Dimples (European Premiere)

Henry Threadgill - alto sax, flute, bass flute and composition
Jonathan Finlayson - trumpet
Stephanie Richards - trumpet
Jacob Garchik - trombone
Ben Gerstein - trombone
Josť Davila - tuba and trombone
Liberty Ellman - acoustic guitar
Christopher Hoffman - cello
Zach Lober - double bass
Elliot Humberto Kavee - drums and percussion

• video •

Supersense Exclusive Studio Trailer

Underbelly - from "Supersense" (Northern Spy)

Steph Richards' "Supersense" and "Sounds for Butch & Dino" - live at Roulette, October 13, 2021

Brooklyn Machine - from "Take The Neon Lights" (Birdwatcher Records)

• links •

"Supersense" on Bandcamp

EPK and Press Photos

• released records •

Henry Threadgill: Dirt...and More Dirt, PI Recordings, 2018
Pulitzer-winning composer's album on "Best of 2018" lists: NPR, Stereogum, New York Times

John Zorn: There is No More Firmament, Tzadik Records, 2017

Deerhoof/Coverband: Coverband, Joyful Noise Records, 2017

Anthony Braxton: Trillium J: The Non-Unconfessionables - Composition No 380, New Braxton House Records, 2016

Taylor Ho Bynum Plustet: Enter the PlusTet, Firehouse 12 Records, 2016

Joseph C. Phillips Numinous: Changing Same, New Amsterdam Records, NWAM068, 2015

Anthony Braxton: Composition No. 46 (+168 and Language Music), New Braxton House Records NBH048, 2014

Asphalt Orchestra: The Pixies' Surfer Rosa, Cantaloupe Records, 2014

• biography and quotes •

Before the release of her 2018 debut Fullmoon (Relative Pitch), Steph Richards had steadily established herself in NYC as an engaging experimentalist on the scene, recording with pioneering artists ranging Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton and John Zorn to David Byrne and Yoko Ono. Her sonic explorations also led to collaborations with artists ranging from Mike Kelly, Laurie Anderson/Lou Reed to Kanye West. Embracing experimental jazz, avant-rock and improvisation, her work is driven by a curiosity of how listeners interact with music and what sensory variables are open to experimentation. Manifestations of her curiosity often result in unexpected orchestrations such as; works for scent, carousel and choreographed ensemble, underwater percussion and 600 found objects. With premieres spanning across the US, Mexico, Canada and Europe, her works have been featured stages as iconic and varied as Carnegie Hall, the Blue-note and Lincoln Center.

As a soloist, Richards' debut record Fullmoon (Relative Pitch Records) was hailed as a "bold pronouncement" by the New York Times and voted on multiple "Best of 2018" year end lists, including as the #1 Record of the Year by Free Jazz Collective. An electro-magnetic exploration of trumpet and resonating vibrations, the record also featured the work of pioneering electronic sampler J.A. Dino Deane. She immediately followed up with the 2019 release Take The Neon Lights, a quartet situated between experimental jazz, free funk and avant rock, It also received high praise from critics, Downbeat calling Steph "a virtuoso of nonlinear trumpet playing" and NextBop calling the record "mesmerising... fans of avant-garde jazz should definitely give this one a listen".

Originally from Canada, Richards has spent much of her career in Brooklyn, NY. She has performed alongside the Kronos Quartet, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) as well as in the improvised scene with musicians such as Jason Moran, Ravi Coltrane and Sylvie Courvoisier. For years she co-produced the NYC-based FONT Music festival alongside trumpeter Dave Douglas, and now co-curates a West Coast version called FONT West.

"Boldly inventive...Steph Richards composes in ways that standard notation could never document"
- New York Times

"A virtuoso of nonlinear trumpet playing"
- Downbeat

"A rising force in avant-garde jazz"
- Jazz Times

"Richards is one to watch"

• "Supersense": presentation and quotes •

As one of the most exciting artists working in jazz's avant-garde Steph Richards is no stranger to challenging listeners expectations, helping them hear things they might not have previously imagined with experiments that range from playing underwater to incorporating a carousel into one of her compositions. But the trumpeter, composer and bandleader is pushing in a still more unusual direction on her upcoming release SUPERSENSE (on Northern Spy): along with a trio of fellow all-star improvisers Richards tapped acclaimed multimedia artist Sean Raspet to create singular, abstract scents to both inform and accompany the recording.

"I was thinking about how much information you get from a live performance that you just can't get by listening to something digitally," says Richards, alluding to how that rich experience gets literally and figuratively compressed by contemporary distribution - not just its soundwaves, but the feel, look and in the case of SUPERSENSE, smell of where it's being performed. "What if I could create an experience where listeners felt even closer to the music by involving their other senses?"

Having worked with both pioneering experimentalists like Butch Morris, Anthony Braxton and Henry Threadgill and more pop-oriented innovators like St. Vincent and Yoko Ono, Richards has pursued abstract, visceral expression via a variety of musical modes - but scent offered a new pathway to intuitive immediacy, a way to prompt herself and her collaborators that avoided language and representation completely. So with Raspet's help, she crafted the album's scents and compositions simultaneously, writing his concoctions into her score: As they played, the musicians would be directed to open numbered boxes containing scents that they would then respond to with improvisation.

"They're not necessarily beautiful," Richards explains - one of her own favorite scents, for example, was of cricket exoskeletons. "They're weird, complex things you can't put your finger on - some of them make you feel a little uneasy, some make you feel clean, some make you feel dirty." Fittingly, the ensemble explores a wide range of unorthodox sounds and textures. Moran offers some piano preparations, Wolleson brought a vanful of homemade percussion to the session, and Richards altered her already dynamic sound with a range of mutes and even playing underwater. Raspet then listened to the record, and tweaked the scents to better accompany the music. His creations, presented on a scratch and sniff card, will accompany physical copies of the record so that listeners can get the full experience, taking in the smells as they hear each track.

Though Richards had hoped to present the album's full multisensory experience via live performance, its mission - to bring some of the tactile feeling of concert-going to the at-home listener - has rarely been more relevant than during the COVID-19 pandemic, when intimate shows seem all but impossible. She hopes that by playing to more than one sense, listeners will be drawn into the music more fully. "It's really mean to live in abstract wordless space,"" she concludes. "One where we're not exactly able to define where we're traveling and what we're feeling, but where we can just be swept away by sensation."

"innately adventurous ****"
- Downbeat

"Steph Richards is a virtuoso of otherworldly trumpet sound"
- Jazz Times

"manipulated, reactionary, explorative, cryptic, unbridled - is beyond not being captivated by"
- All About Jazz

"beautiful, compelling and strange... an impressive statement ****1/2"
- Free Jazz Collective

"an emerging maestro of extended technique... think of Richards as extending the techniques of artistic interaction, creating a way for audiences and performers to share space from afar"
- New York Times

"exploratory, inventive, marvellous"
- Backseat Mafia (UK)


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