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Rick Olson Biography 6/7/2012
Rick Olson is a keyboardist, composer/arranger, and multi-instrumentalist based in the Los Angeles area. Born into a musical family in 1963 in Massachusetts, he grew up in Washington D.C. By junior high school he was already listening to recordings by Armstrong, Brubeck, Corea, Davis, Ellington, Martino, Monk, and Parker, among others, as well as a wide range of rock, blues and reggae releases.
In 1977 Olson's family moved to Minneapolis, where he began to sit in at local clubs and to play gigs. He attended Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan for his senior year of High School, working on his instrumental and compositional skills. He won two Student Recording Awards from Downbeat magazine, and, a scholarship to attend the Berklee School of Music in Boston.
After studies at Berklee, Olson attended University of Minnesota plus worked as a performer, arranger and composer (in 1986 he received a grant for Composition from the Minnesota State Arts Board). In 1988 he moved to Los Angeles where he still resides.
Olson's formal musical training includes Jazz studies at Berklee, classical piano studies with pianists Marek Zebrowski in Boston, Massachusetts, Lee Humphries in Minneapolis, and Alexander Braginsky at the University of Minnesota, Film Scoring studies at UCLA, Synthesizer Programming course work at the Grove School, and Music Notation workshops at the Electronic Music Box in Sherman Oaks California. Additional Jazz studies include lessons and or master classes with Cedar Walton, Stanley Cowell, Marian McPartland, Gary Peacock, Joe Hunt, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Yusef Lateef, and Bobby Peterson.
As an instrumentalist, he has played with a wide range of jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, and rock musicians, including:
Benson Brown, Barbara Morrison, Carl Anderson, Michelle Coltrane, Freda Payne, Little Jimmy Scott, Ernie Andrews, Al Wilson, Dee Dee McNeil, Chaka Khan, Jimmy Spencer, Leslie Lewis, Sandra Booker, Gretchen Parlato, Valerie Harper, Keith David, Jeff Robinson, Lisa Clark, Cynthia Utterbach, Ede Evans-Hyde, Diane Witherspoon, Bili Redd
Phil Upchurch, Wah Wah Watson, Bruce Conte, Rick Zunigar, Jinshi Ozaki, Ray Bailey, Robbie Krieger, Larry Carlton, Jacques Lesure, Doug MacDonald, Keb Mo, Sheryl Crow, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, George Gilliam, Earl "Chinna" Smith, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter
Tim Scott, Ernest Tibbs, Bob Maize, Jeff Littleton, Bill Markus, Rick E Taylor, Michael Saucier, Roberto Miranda, Dr Art Davis, Marshall Hawkins, Chris Conner, Darek Oles, Pete Olson, Putter Smith, Al McKibbon, Chris Colangelo, Abe Laboriel, John Heard, Tony Dumas, Eddie Resto, Nathan East, Ernie McDaniel, Jim Hughart, Todd Johnson, Jerry Watts, Dean Taba, Bruce Lett, Keith Jones, Jimmy Earl, Gordy Johnson, Billy Peterson
Raymond Pounds, Larance Marable, Roy McCurdy, Ralph Penland, Frank Wilson, Don Littleton, Quentin Dennard, Kenny Elliott, Joe Correro, Donald Dean, Ray Armando, Victor Pantoja, Ramon Banda, C.C. Cameron, Alex Acuna, Enzo Todesco, Thomas White, Paul Kreibich, Jason Harnell, Lance Lee, Harold Acey, Vince Wilburn Jr, Clarence Johnston, Billy Higgins, Jack Ranelli, Kendall Kay, Cecil Brooks III, Otis Hayes III, Jimmy Ford, Ramon Banda, Gerryck King, Earl Palmer, Jay Epstein, Joel Taylor, James Gadsen, Bobby Matos, Land Richards, Alonzo (Scooter) Powell, Fritz Wise
Nolan Shaheed, Elliott Caine, Jeff Kaye, Hugh Schick, Andrew Carney, Conte and Pete Candoli, Sal Marquez, Richard Grant, Carl Saunders, Bobby Shew, Mike Price, Stacy Rowles, Jerry Rusch, Jack Shelden, Gene Adams, Walter White, Ron Stout, Rick Gardner
Chuck Manning, Benn Clatworthy, Bennie Maupin, Louis Van Taylor, John Bolivar, Justo Almario, Ray Pizzi, Lanny Morgan, Doug Webb, Marty Krystall, Christopher Mason, John Clarke, Red Holloway, Ricky Woodard, Javier Verguera, Herman Riley, Pat Patrick. Curtis Peagler, Irv Williams, Eric Marienthal
Phil Ranelin, David Dahlsten, Maurice Spears, Jock Ellis, Bob Enevoldsen, Dan Weinstein, Dave Graf
(As an electric keyboardist or guitarist)
George Gaffney, Billy Mitchell, Theo Saunders, Rahn Coleman, Ronnie Hasley, Don Grusin, Ed Vodicka, Todd Hunter, Lee Blaske, John Beasley, Otmaro Ruiz, Scott Oakley
Richard Greene, Jimbo Ross
Onaje Murray, Charlie Shoemake, Nick Mancini, Otis Hayes
Stan Behrens, Tim Welvaars
Quentin Dennard Quartet, Elliott Caine Quintet, Jeff Robinson Group, Bruce Conte Band, Christina Trillo Band, Rick Olson Group, The Ink Spots, The Olympics, The Coasters, Radiant Voices, Jack Ranelli Big Band, Latin Jazz Playground, Bobby Rodriguez Band, The Jazz Vibe, The Jazz Surgeons, Euphoria, Mambo's Combo, and Travel Agent.
Olson has performed at many California Jazz Festivals including: Beatles Fest West San Francisco, Beatles Radio Fest Napa Valley, Mostly Mercer Nevada City, Gas Light Festival San Diego, Idyllwild Jazz Festival, Temecula Jazz Festival, Gardena Jazz Festival, Peninsula Jazz Festival (Palos Verdes), Jazz at Drew, Watts Towers Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival
He doubles on guitar and electric bass.
Also, Olson has transcribed and arranged for artists and groups, including Carly Simon “Concert on the Queen Mary II” 2005, David Dahlsten Rainbow Dancing 2004, Wah Wah Watson ATF 1999, Harvey Mason Fourplay 4 1998, LA Superband featuring Larry Carlton 1997, Voice of Praise Gospel Choir/ Kenny Mason 1998, Herbie Hancock's 1989 Headhunters II Band, as well as tours supporting Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite, a 1996 Columbia/Sony release.
Over the years he has created a large and diverse collection of acoustic and contemporary jazz compositions as well as arrangements with re-harmonization of standard tunes. He has played on many independent CD releases, and wrote a film score in the nineties for David Livingston (Star Trek producer) “A Slice of Life”.
Olson currently performs around California with his own group and as an individual freelance musician playing piano, electric keyboards, and guitars; he also works as a composer/arranger, and as a piano/keyboard teacher in Gardena, California.
On 12/23/11 piano310 released the Rick Olson Group CD “Greene Street.