Rich Thompson is an Associate Professor of jazz studies and contemporary media (pt) at the Eastman School of Music. In addition to his duties as artist/teacher of drum set, he also teaches fundamentals of jazz drum set, assists in coaching the rhythm sections of small groups and big bands, and is a member of the Eastman Jazz Trio/Quartet with Harold Danko, Clay Jenkins and Jeff Campbell.
Mr. Thompson received a bachelor's degree in music education and in percussion from the University of Oklahoma, and a master's degree in jazz studies and contemporary media (performance) from the Eastman School of Music. In the spring of 1996, while on tour with the Count Basie Orchestra, he was asked to join the Eastman faculty. Continuing to tour with the Basie Orchestra, Rich joined the Eastman faculty in the fall of 1996. His association with the Rochester Philharmonic began in the fall of 1994 and continued through January of 2005. Under the direction of pops conductor Jeff Tyzik, Rich has been a featured soloist with the RPO, as well as with many major orchestras in the United States and Canada. He has also toured with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra.
He appeared with the Count Basie Orchestra at the President's Inaugural Ball (Jan. 19 1997), and spent January through July of 1996 touring with the Basie Orchestra. He was a frequent call back in '97 and recorded a live video with the band in NYC at the well-known jazz venue Birdland. He was featured on Tito Puente's 1996 CD release Jazzin, a collaboration CD with Tito Puente, Puente's latin rhythm section and the Count Basie Orchestra. Rich was one of 15 semifinalists in the Thelonious Monk International Drum Competition in October 1992. In the past ten years he has played numerous times with pianist Marian McPartland, guitarist Gene Bertoncini, trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie, guitar legend Joe Pass, and trumpet/flugelhorn great Clark Terry.
Thompson has recorded numerous times in the U.S. and France with renowned pianists Bill Dobbins (Paradise, Glass Enclosure and others.) and as a co-leader with James Williams (of Art Blakey fame) on the CD titled Eventually. He has also recorded/performed with singer Bobby McFerrin and with the Eastman Jazz Trio featuring pianist Harold Danko and bassist Jeff Campbell. Most recently, Rich can be heard with Trio East. The Trio has been performing in New York City and has been written up in the NYC newspaper All About Jazz on several occasions in the spring and summer of 2005.
Rich has written two drum set books which include Drum Set Solos Vol. I (Kendor Music) and Billy Hart's Jazz Drumming (Advance Music). Both books are widely used by students and teachers, and his drum set transcriptions have been featured in Down Beat magazine.