Richie Pratt (born Richard Dean Tyree on March 11, 1943, at Kansas University Med Center then later adopted by John and Willa Pratt in the Kansas City area) is a professional musician. He embarked upon a career as a professional musician on the New York scene in the early 1970s, it was as much due to unanticipated intervention as anything else. Pratt was born to a musical family (a brother is saxophonist, Chris Burnett) and grew up in the Kansas City metro city of Olathe, Kansas. He studied music via the piano, as well as, attended various music camps as a youth.
Eventually growing into a rather large and powerful man, he attended the University of Kansas under a full four-year scholarship to play varsity football. While enrolled in school and living in Lawrence, Kansas he would not only block for Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Gayle Sayers as an All-Time KU Football Letterman, but Pratt also continued his musical development. He performed in orchestra, jazz and wind ensembles, along with performing in a student USO show that first took to him to Hawaii as a performer. He was eventually drafted to play professional football by the NFL’s New York Giants.
Richie Pratt’s prolific tenure as a first-call percussionist on the highly competitive New York City music scene began after he suffered a career-ending injury during his second season with the Giants. His professional tenure as a musician in New York actually began while he was employed as a host at the famed Village Gate. Pratt began sitting in with Jaki Byard and word began to spread about the big guy from the Midwest who played drums. The legendary late bassist, Major Holley, eventually invited Pratt to jam on Sundays at Jacques, which resulted in Junior Mance hearing him play drums and offering him his first paid gig as a drummer in New York. Initially described in the New York press as a "bubbling cauldron of musical vitality", Pratt subsequently added musical diversity to his cauldron by performing with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey; in the Broadway hits: Ain't Supposed To Die A Natural Death; Dude; Raisin; and notably, Pratt was the drum soloist in Broadway's smashing tribute to Duke Ellington, Sophisticated Ladies.
In the traditional jazz arena, Pratt spent over three years as a member of the New York Jazz Quartet, which included Sir Roland Hanna, Frank Wess, and George Mraz. Pratt also accompanied Billy Taylor, Milt Jackson, Milton Hinton, Frank Foster, Monty Alexander, Michel Legrand, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, and Benny Carter among others. The lightness and sensitivity of his drumming has enhanced such legendary vocalists as: Nancy Wilson, Aretha Franklin, Marlena Shaw, Barry White, Melba Moore, the Temptations, Della Reese, Johnny Hartman, Carol Sloane, and Johnny Desmond as well.
Pratt was based in Honolulu, Hawaii, upon leaving New York City and continued to be an active performer on the local Honolulu music scene, as well as co-founding and contributing to establishing such local groups as Honolulu Jazz Quartet. Pratt also often worked with touring artists, such as the Russian-born trumpeter, Valery Ponomerov, who make the Hawaiian islands part of their itineraries.
On October 6, 2012, Pratt returned home to the mainland to live in the midwest and is currently based permanently out of his native Kansas City metropolitan area.
He signed with the Kansas City-based new concept music label Artists Recording Collective in 2007. The commercial and formal record label affiliated debut release as a leader of his own original music on compact disc (ARC-2093) took over 20 years to be realized. His album entitled Olathe is available worldwide at all of the major retailers such as iTunes, Amazon.com and CD Baby.
- RichiePratt.net - official site archived
- Richie Pratt at Artists Recording Collective - (ARC-2093) RICHIE PRATT – OLATHE – AUDIO CD
- All About Jazz article - Drummer Richie Pratt
- Allmusic - Richard Pratt
- Internationalen Jazzfestival Bern History - Drums/Percussion
- Richie Pratt at the Internet Broadway Database
- KU Football: All-Time Letterman