RICK CARLSON taught himself to play the piano by studying the vast works of Count Basie and Duke Ellington and capitalizing on a long string of happy accidents. He has also perfected the art of “circular drinking”, whereby he can sip martinis uninterrupted while still playing a cohesive piano solo.
He has been the pianist for the Wolverines Big Band since 1980. He has performed on concert stages in London and New York City, and has appeared with Count Basie drummer Butch Miles, horn stars Warren Vaché, Delfeayo Marsalis, Evan Christopher and Wycliffe Gordon. His credits as musical director, arranger and pianist include the Guthrie Theater presentation of “Coward’s Women”, the Capri Theater “Legends Series” and in various concert and cabaret presentations internationally. He opened for Rosemary Clooney, accompanied Kathryn Crosby in various cabaret shows, and counts Madeleine Peyroux among his many unwitting fans.
…the pianism of Rick Carlson, whose buoyant accompaniment referenced the stride-style wizardry of Waller and James P. Johnson.
HOWARD REICH, CHICAGO TRIBUNE