Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music


SUDHALTER, Richard M. (Dick)

(b 28 December 1938, Boston; d 19 September 2008 of multiple system atrophy) Cornet, trumpet, flugelhorn, alto horn, piano; also writer, broadcaster, lecturer etc. His graceful and lyrical ideas put him in the same class as Bobby Hackett and Ruby Braff, whose music is not so much traditional as beyond category. He obtained degrees in music and English Lit. at Oberlin; moved to Europe in 1960 and lived in Germany (joined United Press International as a news correspondent), Austria, Yugoslavia etc; was a member of Bavarian Radio Jazz Ensemble, Heinz Schellerer Quintet and others, mostly in Munich.

He settled in London, maintaining simultaneous jazz and journalism careers. He played in England with various groups including the Anglo-American Alliance (albums include Anglo-American Alliance 1968 to be reissued '97 by the Jazzology group; see that entry), Sandy Brown Quintet, a group with fellow-cornettist Gerry Salisbury, sextet Jazz without Walls (which introduced vocalist Susannah McCorkle). Sudhalter's group Commodore (with multi-instrumentalist Keith Nichols, pianist Keith Ingham, bassist Peter Ind, others) backed cornettist Bobby Hackett on his only UK tour '74; that year Sudhalter formed the New Paul Whiteman Orchestra, which appeared on BBC radio and TV, with Sudhalter playing the Bix Beiderbecke cornet solos (albums on various labels; Runnin' Wild and Live At Queen Elizabeth Hall reissued '97 on Challenge). His writing with the research of Philip R. Evans and William Dean-Myatt produced Bix: Man And Legend '74, the first definitive biography of a major jazz musician; he also wrote for Jazz Journal, Storyville, Crescendo etc as Art Napoleon.

Back in the USA he recorded for the Jazzology/Audiophile family in the 1980s including Friends With Pleasure (the Primus Inter Pares Jazz Ensemble including Dave Frishberg, Howard Alden), Classic Jazz Quartet and MCMLXXXV! with Dick Wellstood, Getting Some Fun Out Of Life, with Mr Tram Associates including Loren Schoenberg and singers Barbara Lea and Daryl Sherman. Other albums included Get Out And Get Under The Moon on Stomp Off (cornet duo with New Orleans musician Connie Jones, plus guitarist Marty Grosz etc) and Max Morath In Jazz Country on Vanguard, both reissued '97, the Stomp Off on Challenge; Manhattan Work Song and Time Waits For No One by Loren Schoenberg's Big Band were on MusicMasters.

He put together the album Phoebe Tyler Regrets for actress/singer Ruth Warrick and Dick Sudhalter's Big Band on Pine Valley, a cooking band with Johnny Mince, Al Klink, Howard Alden, Vince Giordano, Mike Renzi etc. (Warrick's films included Citizen Kane '41, Disney's Song Of The South '46; she played Phoebe Tyler on the daily TV soap All My Children for many years; wrote autobiography The Confessions Of Phoebe Tyler '80.) Sudhalter was co-producer and annotator of You're The Top '92, a multi-disc set of classic recordings of Cole Porter songs published by the Indiana Historical Society and the Smithsonian Institution; the set was nominated for three Grammys (he has won Grammys for his annotations) and Vol. 2 was in progress. Two volumes of the Carmichael anthology Hoagy's Children on Audiophile with vocalists Lea and Bob Dorough were followed by the touring show Hoagy On My Mind '94. After Awhile '94 on Challenge by Dick Sudhalter and his London Friends reunited groups including Jack Parnell on drums, multi-instrumentalist John R. T. Davies on alto sax etc recorded in the Bull's Head at Barnes, a favourite jazz venue. Exactly Like You '95 on Nagel-Heyer was made in Hamburg, billed as Tom Saunders' Wild Bill Davison Band and Guests, traditional music played 'with such fire you'd think it was brand new' according to Cadence; including vocalist Jeanie Lambe, Saunders on cornet and vocals, Marty Grosz on guitar and vocals, Sudhalter on cornet, trumpet and flugelhorn, and eight others.

He was a curator e.g. of the papers of songwriter Willard Robison (see entry for Barbara Lea), along with scholarly work for the Grove dictionaries of music and many others. His book Lost Chords '98 was a study of the white contribution to jazz 1915-40, an astounding work of research seen by some as downplaying the black contribution, which was nonsense. He also wrote Stardust Melody: The Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael 2002.

He suffered a stroke, and while recovering, came down with an obscure incurable disease which gradually closed down his entire body: first he could no longer play, then he could not write, and finally this most articulate of men could not even speak.