“Julia Rich shows an allegiance to the big band forms of the ’40’s and ’50’s but also proves to be a very intelligent songwriter who can come up with a lot of witty tunes about love and life, such as ‘If I Spoke French’ and ‘Boyfriends.’ Her smooth, elegant voice sounds best on slow, languid tempos with Larry O’Brien’s smooth, Tommy Dorsey-like trombone or Rickey Woodard’s deep tenor behind her. Her tries at other styles are worthy as well. There’s the perky calypso beat of ‘Hula Girls,’ the jazzy brassiness of ‘Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead,’ a solemn version of ‘The Tennessee Waltz’ and a bossa nova treatment of the Beatles on ‘I Will.’ Read the rest of this entry »
“For her second album, Julia Rich sinks her musical teeth into an assorted program of standards, a Beatles tune, and seven of her works, one of which she wrote with Benita Hill, whose tunes have been recorded by the cover boy of country music: Garth Brooks. The Rich/Hill collaboration, ‘Raining In Rio,’ resembles country music not one whit. Instead, it’s romantic with George Tidwell’s flugelhorn playing an important role in extending it beyond merely presentable. In addition to original material, there are other significant differences between this album and Rich’s initial effort. On ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ she is jazzier, helped along with first-rate jazz musicians. Read the rest of this entry »
“A beautiful new album so carefully crafted. Julia has clearly learned much from her experience as the ‘band singer’ with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and her respect for these songs is so effectively communicated. Pure, straightforward, unadorned jazz-inflected popular singing. The world needs many more singers approaching these songs with the feeling and love expressed here.”
Pat Goodhope “Sinatra and Company”
AM 1290/WJBR Radio – Wilmington, DE
On Sunday, July 6, 2008, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, directed by Larry O’Brien, and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, directed by Buddy Morrow, faced off in the Battle of the Bands to culminate the Montreal Jazz Festival. The rumble ensued at the Place des Arts and was witnessed by two sold-out houses totaling 6,000 energized fans.
Hard swinging TDO “boy singer” Walt Andrus (a role historically held by Frank Sinatra) delivered on “The Song is You” and “Sunny Side of the Street,” while GMO crooner Ryan Garfi flaunted his velvet chops on “Berkeley Square” and “Serenade in Blue.” Connie Brink for the TDO charmed with “The Very Thought of You.” GMO’s Julia Rich pranced with “Fascinatin’ Rhythm,” “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” and her own “If I Spoke French.” (Note: Julia was awarded an extra point for her dress.)
On Friday, May 5, Dick Gerhart died in Boca Raton, Florida. Dick was leader of the Glenn Miller Orchestra from 1983 to 1988, road manager for 10 years before that, and sideman for his first 5 years with the band. During his time as a GMO sideman, he served under leaders Buddy De Franco, Peanuts Hucko, Buddy Morrow, Jimmy Henderson, and Larry O’Brien. Dick had a fat tenor saxophone sound and they called him “Zoot,” after Zoot Sims.
Dick hired me as girl singer for the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1985. I was a schoolteacher in Chattanooga, TN, and I still remember the night he called. It was late, time for school teachers to be in bed. When I boarded the GMO bus in Nashville after my first gig with the band at the Opryland Hotel, Dick saw the fear in my mother’s eyes. As Joe Francis sang to my baby nephew Matthew (now 21), Dick reassured my mother and promised to take care of me.