"Tenor saxophonist Rich Halley has been making bold, uncompromising music outside the jazz mainstream for over 30 years. An adventurous
neo-traditionalist with a predilection for the expressive potential of free jazz, Halley’s robust tenor testimonials invoke numerous antecedents, ranging from
swing-era icons like Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster to probing modernists like Sonny Rollins and Dewey Redman."
- -Troy Collins, Point of Departure
"While Halley's tenor technique is all-inclusive, occasionally breaking out with more jagged
screeches, honks and multiphonics, he's equally concerned with space, thematic development - even groove. Proof that free
jazz can be accessible, even though many of Halley's compositions are loose sketches to be used as jumping-off points,
the album is surprisingly listenable - surprising, that is, if you haven't already heard the trio's earlier recordings.
- -John Kelman, allaboutjazz
"Halley is an advanced, modern player with a ferocious, warbling tone, complete command of his
horn and an eclectic approach that takes in both traditional improvising and free-wheeling, expressive sounds...
[Coyotes in the City is] a fine new album that nicely captures the fierce spirit of the group."
- -Paul DeBarros, Seattle Times
"The album consists entirely of original compositions by Halley, which immediately cast it in
the light of "cutting edge." Combined with freedom of expression, independent thought, purposeful execution, the courage
to follow the inner self, the talent to give it voice, and then, to let the chips fall where they may; suddenly, jazz in
its purest, essential form is possible; jazz that must survive; jazz that is the original American art form, becomes the
reality. This is the free jazz of The Rich Halley Quartet."
- -C.J. Bond, jazmuzik.com
"There have been times when jazz and the spoken word appeared inseparable. Brief times, but times
when the combination was a powerful artistic and (counter) cultural force. Children Of The Blue Supermarket brings those
times back, a reminder of how effective a partnership the jazz musician and the poet can create. Maybe it's the new thing."
- -Bruce Lindsay, allaboutjazz
"Play Halley's exceptionally well-recorded new "Objects" (Louie) loud, and hear not only the easy
flow of why-didn't-I-think-of-that structures, but the subtle note-to-note variations in volume, shaping and tone
(imagine if Dexter Gordon grew up 30 years later) that only masters can achieve. Halley's logic contrasts with the playful
reactivity of longtime trio mates Clyde Reed (bass) and Dave Storrs (drums), who...create DNA-specific free jazz."
- -Greg Burk, LA Weekly
"Like the very best of them, every time Rich Halley puts his horn in his mouth it's a celebration of the sound of the
saxophone. His powerhouse blowing capacity and testosterone-soaked sound hearken to the great Sonny Rollins and the
late Dewey Redman. His ensemble approach featuring two horns—cornet and saxophone, supported by bass and drums —comes
from the classic Ornette Coleman period. But the music's personality is pure Rich Halley."
- -Dan McClenaghan, allaboutjazz.com
"Tenor saxophonist Rich Halley teams up here with acclaimed cornetist Bobby Bradford for a foray
through some of Rich's own compositions. Imaginative ideas abound and all are executed with considerable flair and polish.
The front line horns are backed with spirit by bassist Clyde Reed and drummer Carson Halley. This is music that retains
hints of the jazz style of earlier years while never losing the feel of contemporary improvised music."
- -Bruce Crowther, swing2bop.com
"Prominent USA West Coast jazz artists, saxophonist Rich Halley and cornetist Bobby Bradford, disseminate a restless spirit,
boosted by memorable compositions and compelling improvisational jaunts... Vibrant and loaded with unanticipated surprises,
Halley's broad jazz vernacular and enviable chops help consummate a diverse program that yields several knockout blows."
- -Glenn Astarita, allaboutjazz.com
""Objects" is classic sax/bass/drums blowing and it's tremendous stuff all round. Halley's tenor
playing is stern and carefully-weighted, his lines so definite they sound like they're carved on the air; his soprano has
something of the genial detachment of Steve lacy. This is a group which often reverses roles: here, the horn is often the
most stable element of the music, while bassist Clyde Reed and drummer Dave Storrs are the quickchange artists. There's
one standard, a gorgeous tumultuous "Over the Rainbow"...The other five pieces take their bearings from simple but effective
heads by Halley, though the peformances are sufficiently freewheeling that there's no telling where they'll go."
- -Nate Dorward, Paris Transatlantic Magazine
"Whether he's playing tenor or soprano sax, Halley is fierce, his style a heady mix of mainstream
and "out" concepts. Of the six tracks here, five are loosely structured but finely developed free pieces, and they find the
trio stretching vigorously. Storrs throws odd vocalizations into the mix on the funky "Back in the 400 Club" and the epic
finale, "Thickets/Pavement" which Halley begins on wood flute. But just when you think you've got Halley pegged as a
maverick free player, along comes "Over the Rainbow", rendered in the classic tenor ballad tradition, summoning Dexter
Gordon and Sonny Rollins, Coltrane, Liebman and beyond."
- -David R Adler, All Music Guide
"Dan Raphael is... terrific here: the phrases just shoot out, nearly every one hitting an unexpected target somewhere beyond
you... Striking as the poetry might be on its own, the sax shadowing it heightens every line. Halley has a distinctive sound and
style, comparable (not to say similar) to Von Freeman. He can't stretch out much here, but is terrific nonetheless."
- -Tom Hull, Jazz Prospecting
"Tenor saxophonist Halley's raspy tone and swaggery timing make him a fine Bradford foil, and the
trumpeter is expert at bending his sound to fit his partner's. He knows when to lay back, or quietly harmonize, or twine
his line around the tenor in counterpoint, or leap up to lead the charge...Drummer Dave Storrs brings an effective
combination of busyness and lift, evoking Edward Blackwell's parade beats just enough to make Bradford feel at home.
Vancouver bassist Clyde Reed has a plump tugged-string tone and a slippery sense of time that lets him place accents along
a sliding scale within a bar. He and Storrs push ahead and build tension at once. With support like that, Bradford and
Halley can sail and wail. The music swings: it's tuneful, it's cohesive."
- -Kevin Whitehead, The Absolute Sound
"You know what you are getting into when the music starts to boil and spark on the first track.
The saxophonist remarks in the notes for this disc that some of the music was written for a series of outdoor concerts in a
nature setting east of Portland and that also reflects in the music; there is an air about Reed's rich dark tone on the
upright bass that blends with Storr's restless percussion to create a buoyant support for the tenor saxophonist,
particularly on the sinuous "Half Light" where Halley waxes breathy like Dexter, then catches fire. The opposite side of
his nature comes through loud and clear on the final selection "Rimrocks" where he lights into multiphonics that threaten
to scorch the disc."
- -Steve Vickery, Signal to Noise
"Halley's inventive circular breathing on the soprano sax and his rhythmic drive show that he
deserves far more recognition."
- -Aaron Cohen, Down Beat
"When the first ferocious sounds of Rich Halley's "Coyotes in the City" came growling out of the
stereo, I thought: Ornette on tenor and Ornette's playing with an attitude today. ...That opener - a take no prisoners tour
de force entitled "Green, Brown and Blue" - burns for thirteen-plus minutes, long enough to singe the little hairs in your
ear canals. ...The CD as a whole - after the first frontal assault of the opener - is atmospheric, eerie, beautiful in a
restrained and dangerous-sounding way. Halley's tenor playing is muscular in the Sonny Rollins sense, and his compositions
and backing are cohesive, tight and sublime."
- -Dan McClenaghan, The American Reporter
David Leibman Review in Saxophone Journal
Coyotes in the City review on jazzweekley.com by Ken Waxman
Review of Live at Beanbenders on The Improvisor
Review of Louie Records and Coyotes in the City on All About Jazz by Laurence Donohue-Greene
Biographical article from Jazz Forum
Rich Halley (born November 25, 1947, Portland, Oregon) is an American jazz saxophonist and composer. He has released 20 recordings as a leader and is known for his asymmetrical and
rhythmic compositions and his fiery playing.
Rich Halley is the only child of Richard Halley Sr., an economics professor at Portland State University, and Libby Anne Halley, a reading and special education teacher.
Growing up, he spent much of his time hiking, camping, hunting and fishing and at an early age developed a lifelong passion for nature and the outdoors. He spent summers at the
family homestead in Richland, Oregon near the Wallowa Mountains. At 15, he discovered jazz, and immediately became intensely interested in the music.
Halley began playing clarinet at age 11 and tenor saxophone at age 15. In 1965-66 He lived in Cairo, Egypt where he played in a band with an international repertoire. When he arrived at the
University of Chicago in 1966 he found himself surrounded by blues music and culture and the explorations of the AACM. In 1967-68 he played in Home Juice, a blues band in Chicago that
included Jeff Carp, Jordan Sandke and Paul Asbell. In 1968 he moved back to the Western US where he played in Latin bands, rhythm & blues bands and jazz groups in San Francisco, Albuquerque
and Portland. His early influences included Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler as well as Jim Pepper, who was also from Portland.
Between 1968 and 1975 he interspersed periods of musical activity with time spent climbing mountains and exploring the deserts and jungles of the Western US, Mexico and Central America.
From 1977-81 Halley performed in the experimental group Multnomah Rhythm Ensemble that explored improvised music in combination with multi-media. His first recording, Multnomah Rhythms
(Avocet), was released in 1983.
During the 80’s and 90’s, Halley was the leader of the Lizard Brothers, a three or four horn sextet that released five recordings on Avocet and Nine Winds and performed in the US and Canada.
The Lizard Brothers featured complex, multi-sectioned charts combined with open improvisation. At various times the group included, reed player Vinny Golia, trombonist Michael Vlatkovich,
trumpeter Rob Blakeslee, saxophonist Troy Grugett, saxophonist Gary Harris, trombonist Tom Hill, pianist Geoff Lee, bassist Phil Sparks and drummer William Thomas.
In 1991-92 Halley played in the cooperative band Jack’s Headlights that included trumpeter Rob Blakeslee, saxophonist Hans Teuber, bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Aaron Alexander.
Halley co-founded Portland’s Creative Music Guild in 1991 after being disappointed with the lack of performing opportunities for non-traditional jazz musicians. Since 1994 he has been
the musical director of the Penofin Jazz Festival in Northern California, which has presented many leading creative jazz artists.
In 2001, Halley formed a trio with bassist Clyde Reed and drummer Dave Storrs. This band was more oriented toward free improvisation and less toward writing. From 2001 to 2005 the group
released three trio recordings on Louie Records plus a quartet recording with cornetist Bobby Bradford in 2003.
Rich Halley is also the leader of the Outside Music Ensemble, a four horn/two percussion sextet that performs in purely acoustic outdoor settings. For 13 consecutive years the OME performed
annual hike-in concerts on top of the butte in Powell Butte Nature Park as part of the Portland Parks Summer Concert Series. The group includes trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, trumpeter
Jim Knodle, saxophonist Troy Grugett, percussionist Dave Storrs and drummer Carson Halley.
In 2010, Halley released Live at the Penofin Jazz Festival featuring cornetist Bobby Bradford on his own label, Pine Eagle Records. Around this time he formed the Rich Halley 4 with trombonist
Michael Vlatkovich, bassist Clyde Reed and drummer Carson Halley, his son. This group has released three recordings.
Halley emphasizes the importance what he calls compositional group improvisation. This is the spontaneous development of musical structures by the group as it improvises, creating a
varied musical story which provides a foundation for the drama and emotion in the music.
Rich Halley has worked with poets and dancers over the years and in 2011 he released Children of the Blue Supermarket with poet Dan Raphael and drummer Carson Halley. This CD was picked as one of
the best recordings of the year by Tom Hull in the Rhapsody jazz poll.
In 2011, the Rich Halley 4 released Requiem for a Pit Viper, which was picked by Francis Davis in the Village Voice as one of the best recordings of the year. Davis recognized Halley as one
of the top up and coming saxophonists in jazz.
In 2012, the Rich Halley 4 released Back From Beyond, which was listed in DownBeat as one of the best CD’s of the year.
In 2013, the Rich Halley 4 released Crossing the Passes, which was listed in DownBeat as one of the best CD’s of the year.
In 2013, the Rich Halley 4 released Crossing the Passes, which was listed in DownBeat as one of the best CD’s of the year.
In 2014, the Rich Halley 4 released The Wisdom of Rocks and toured the Midwest.
In 2015, The Rich Halley 4 released Creating Structure and Eleven on Pine Eagle Records and toured the East Coast.
In 2016, The Rich Halley 5 (including Vinny Golia) released The Outlier on Pine Eagle Records.
In 2017, Rich Halley and Carson Halley released The Wild on Pine Eagle Records.
Halley has performed with Vinny Golia, Obo Addy, Michael Bisio, Bobby Bradford, Nels Cline, David Friesen, Julius Hemphill, Andrew Hill, Oliver Lake and Tony Malaby.
Halley was educated as a field biologist and received an M.S. in Biology from the University of New Mexico where he did research on rattlesnakes. His lifelong interest in nature has
informed his music and led him on many trips into wilderness regions around the world. He worked for many years in information technology. He is married to Betty Halley and lives in
Outside Ensemble |
Lizard Bros |