Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Overton, Rick (Frederick Decatur Overton Jr.)
Overton, Rick [Frederick Decatur Overton Jr.], trumpet, educator, composer, arranger; b. Riverhead, NY, 25 May 1961. Raised in Westhampton, NY with brother (Raymond, b.1959). His parents are Fred (Frederick, b.1931) and Joyce (b. 1931).
Started trumpet in school at the age of 8, later studying privately under John Lamendola, Jazz trumpet and pit orchestra musician, Sonny LaRosa and trumpet artist, (classical and jazz) David Naylor. While in school he played with various local groups from orchestras and big bands to church solos and combos. Overton entered Berklee College of Music (Professional Certificate, 1981) and studied trumpet with Ray Kostwica, Greg Hopkins, Jeff Stout and Wayne Naus concentrating mostly on arranging. Transferred to Shenandoah Conservatory (BM Jazz Studies, 1984 Cum Laude and BM Music Education, 1984 Cum Laude) studying trumpet under Allan Wright and Edward Cooper in jazz and classical respectively. During his first year at Berklee he was introduced to producer, composer and saxophonist Teo Macero (b. 1926). It was under his tutelage that the concepts of music were fomented. From 1984 he performed with SS Dolphin Cruises (Caribbean), Kings Productions (big band show), guitar-flugelhorn duo with Craig Boyd, El Presidente Cruises (FL.) and many other local groups in NY and FL (and nationally known groups such as The Temptations and Four Tops). He taught in public school systems in VA, NY and FL. Created and hosted his own programs on various radio stations including jazz programs on public broadcasting (WPBX) from Long Island University's Southampton campus. He was also designated as an adjunct professor for Jazz Appreciation at the campus. Worked as a booking agent, house band leader, sound technician and MC at The Inner Circle Jazz and Blues Club on Long Island where he came in contact and played with Seleno Clark, Donald Harrison, Mark Whitfield, Bobby Forrester, Ray Alexander, Greg Bandy, Robert Hurst, Jack McDuff and many others. He moved to Tokyo, Japan in 1990 where he has composed for and led his own group, The Rick Overton Unit (Bruce Stark- piano, Shinobu Sato-bass and Tommy Campbell-drums). While in Japan he has continued to play with high caliber performers such as the Empire Brass Quintet, Branford Marsalis, Nat Reeves, Cyrus Chestnut and others who have toured Japan. He is noted for his "dark tonal color", Miles-like approach in improvisation and artistic presentation of music. Rick Overton's highest acclaim has come in education where he created music programs for schools from elementary to college level. While at Tokyo College of Music he is credited with breaking down the walls that limited music instruction at music colleges to classical music only by creating the Tokyo College of Music Jazz Ensemble (1993), Contemporary Harmony and Arranging course (1993) and Jazz Improvisation minor (1995) which became the first such course at a four year music college in Japan. He currently teaches those as well as jazz combos as an Associate Professor of Jazz Improvisation and Jazz Trumpet. At the college's affiliated high school he created and currently teaches Jazz Harmony and presented the first seminar ever given in jazz at the National Association of Music High School Teacher's Conference in 1999. He also created an instrumental music program from elementary school to middle school level at the internationally renowned Nishimachi International School in Tokyo. The program included two Jazz-Rock Ensembles (6th - 9th grades) as well as other ensembles and music classes. He is currently a consultant for one of his former students in Jazz at one of Ecuador's national music colleges and gives seminars and master classes around Japan and the US. He was awarded a Masters of Arts in Music, concentration in Composition for St. Lourdes University in 2002.
Recordings, broadcast and films:
Tokyo Time Zone (1995); Urbanesque (2001); About 15 unissued tapes with Cyrus Chestnut, Nat Reeves, Dion Parsons, Hisao Tanoshiro, Haji and others; Shakey's Pizza, Kirin Beer, Pioneer (carrozzeria with appearance in film), Casio, Japan Steel Federation (promo and educational video) various TV and radio appearances and radio interview in Japan with Peter Barakan and Branford Marsalis.
Numerous compositions and two workbooks; Contemporary Harmony and Arranging I & II.
Written works on Overton: Japan Times, IHT, Asahi Shimbun and Southampton Press newspapers, Jazz Life and Asahi Graf magazines.