Doug Richards, professor emeritus Department of Music, Virginia Commonwealth University, received the 1997 Outstanding Teaching Award from VCU (over 3000 full time faculty). His former students have performed and recorded with many of the world’s leading jazz organizations including the Count Basie Orchestra, the Ray Charles Orchestra, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the Village Vanguard Orchestra, as well as with groups led by such major figures as Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Horace Silver, Abbey Lincoln, Cyrus Chestnut, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, James Carter, the Brecker Brothers and many others.
Richards joined the VCU faculty in 1979, founding its Jazz Studies program in 1980. He also founded and was the musical director of the Great American Music Ensemble, one of the leading professional repertory jazz orchestras in the nation. GAME performed at the Smithsonian Institution Jazz Festival, the International Duke Ellington Society Annual Convention, the National Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting Concert, the International Association for Jazz Education Conference, and on NPR and PBS. Between 1990 and 1997, GAME presented an annual concert series at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, where it consistently performed to large, enthusiastic audiences and strong critical praise.
Richards has transcribed numerous jazz performances for Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Publications, lectured at the Smithsonian Institution regarding the music of Duke Ellington and participated on a panel at a Jazz Times Convention regarding jazz repertory. He is the recipient of numerous grants from VCU toward the creation of musical works.
For three years, Richards joined Wynton Marsalis, Max Roach, Ray Brown, Victor Lewis and Martin Williams on the jazz faculty of Gunther Schuller’s Festival at Sandpoint, Idaho. He met guitarist/composer Anthony Wilson there and subsequently produced Wilson’s first two compact discs, one of which was nominated for a Grammy. Martin Williams — the “dean of jazz critics” — has called Richards “the most original writer for big band since Gil Evans.”
“To hear 'Through a Sonic Prism,' his new album of Jobim arrangements, is to be struck by something truly special. Richards’ horn accompaniments, to cite just one aspect, are wildly imaginative, tightly executed, with a rich and unusual blend of brass and reed sonorities — all of it somehow never getting in the way of the song. Richards lets these Jobim classics speak for themselves while making them brand new in the process.” - David Adler
“Think of every ace arranger/orchestrator from Albam to Zappa – all are “here” and Richards does them all one better. And, in the shrewdest of ways, Richards shows he knows the fine line between creative experimentation and jejune jive (of which there’s none).” - Nick Mondello (JazzTimes)