Ralph Sutton

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Ralph Sutton
Birth name Ralph Earl Sutton
Born November 4, 1922
Origin Hamburg, Missouri
Died December 30, 2001
Genres Jazz
Instruments piano
Labels Arbors Records
Associated acts Bob Scobey

Ralph Earl Sutton (November 4, 1922 – December 30, 2001) was an American jazz pianist born in Hamburg, Missouri. He was a stride pianist in the tradition of James P. Johnson and Fats Waller.

Sutton had a stint as a session musician with Jack Teagarden's band before joining the US Army during World War II. After the war, he played at various venues in Missouri, eventually ending up at Eddie Condon's club in Greenwich Village. In 1956, he relocated to San Francisco, California, where he recorded several albums with Bob Scobey's dixieland band. From the 1960s onward, he worked mostly on his own. However, when the World's Greatest Jazz Band was established in 1968, he was the natural choice for piano. He left that band in 1974 due to the extensive travel involved, and joined an old sidekick, Peanuts Hucko, in a quartet in Denver, near his home in Evergreen, CO.[1]

Fellow jazz pianist Jess Stacy said this about Ralph Sutton: "He is a superb piano player and a great guy. There's nothing upstage about him. I really admire the way he plays. He's one of the few piano players who uses both hands, and it's sure nice to know that a player like Ralph is still around. I can't say enough good things about him. He's one of the greats, and I hope he gets the recognition he deserves."[2]

He died in 2001 and was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame the following year. Sutton died in Evergreen, Colorado.


As leader[edit]

  • Backroom piano Piano solos (Columbia Records 33CX 10061, Clef series) Unknown date
  • Piano Solos In The Classic Jazz Tradition (Riverside Records, 1949 & 1952)
  • Wondrous Piano, The Private Family Recordings, (Arbors Records, 1961)
  • Ralph Sutton "off the cuff" Audiophile AP-163 Recorded April 17, 1976
  • Ralph Sutton at St. George Church, England (Arbors Records, 1992)
  • Ralph Sutton at Maybeck (Maybeck Recital Hall Series Volume Thirty, Concord Records, 1993)

As sideman[edit]

With Johnny Varro

With Ruby Braff

With Dick Cary

With Jay McShann

  • Last of the Whorehouse Piano Players 1979 (Chiaroscuro)
  • Last of the Whorehouse Piano Players 1989 (Chiaroscuro)

With Kenny Davern

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Sadler, Jack. Ralph Sutton. [Montréal, Qué.: Montréal Vintage Music Society], 1977. N.B.: Consists of a chronology of Sutton's career and a discography of his recordings.
  • Shacter, James D. Piano Man: The Story of Ralph Sutton. [Chicago, Il: Jaynar Press], 1975.


  1. ^ Shacter, James D. Piano Man: The Story of Ralph Sutton, p. 1-4, 133, 202, Jaynar Press, Chicago, IL, 1975.
  2. ^ Shacter, James D. Piano Man: The Story of Ralph Sutton, p. 180, Jaynar Press, Chicago, IL, 1975.