Dick Oatts

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Dick Oatts
In Aarhus, Denmark (2012)
Photo Hreinn Gudlaugsson
Background information
Birth name Richard Dennis Oatts
Born (1953-04-02) April 2, 1953 (age 63)
Des Moines, Iowa, United States
Genres Jazz, Hard bop
Occupation(s) Musician, Composer, Educator
Instruments alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, clarinet, piano
Years active 1972-present
Labels Steeplechase, RED, DMP
Associated acts Jerry Bergonzi, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Flim & the BB's, Terell Stafford
Website www.dickoattsmusic.com

Richard Dennis "Dick" Oatts (born April 2, 1953 in Des Moines, Iowa) is an American jazz saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and educator from Jefferson, Iowa. He is currently a professor and director of the jazz studies department at Temple University in Philadelphia, and an artist-in-residence at the Amsterdam Conservatory.[1]


Oatts first became interested in saxophone due to his father Jack Oatts, a respected jazz educator and saxophonist. He attended Drake University[2] before beginning his professional career in Minneapolis in 1972. In 1977, he joined the The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra,[1] which later became the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra[3]

Oatts' work on woodwind instruments (Soprano, alto & tenor saxophones, clarinet, and flute) became more widely known as he fronted the crossover jazz group, Flim & the BB's in the 1980s and 90s.[4] In tandem with bassist Jimmy "Flim" Johnson, drummer Bill Berg, and keyboardist Billy Barber, Oatts rounded out the contemporary jazz foursome to release several popular albums.

Since the 1970s, Oatts has released more than a dozen CDs as a leader and co-leader, and has appeared on over 100 albums as a sideman with a number of artists including Joe Henderson, Jerry Bergonzi, Eddie Gómez, Bob Brookmeyer, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Joe Lovano and others, working extensively with Steeplechase Records.[5] He has also accompanied several other notable artists such as Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Tormé, and Ella Fitzgerald.[2]

Additionally, Oatts is a former faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music, as well as an artist-in-residence at the Amsterdam Conservatory since 1997. In 2006, he became a professor and the artistic director of the jazz studies department at Temple University in Philadelphia.[1] Oatts has appeared at college jazz festivals as a soloist and clinician throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Canada, South America, and the Middle East.


Oatts currently plays Selmer Mark VI saxophones, uses a Brilhart mouthpiece on alto, and a Ted Klum mouthpiece on tenor. He is officially sponsored by D'Addario Woodwinds and has played Rico reeds exclusively since 1970.[6]


As a leader or co-leader[edit]

  • 1990: Dial and Oatts (DMP) with Garry Dial
  • 1990: Brassworks (DMP) with Garry Dial
  • 1997: All of Three (Steeplechase)
  • 1999: Standard Issue Vol.1 (Steeplechase)
  • 2000: Simone's Dance (Steeplechase)
  • 2000: Standard Issue Vol.2 (Steeplechase)
  • 2000: Meru (Steeplechase) with the Dave Santoro Quartet
  • 2001: South Paw (Steeplechase)
  • 2006: Jam Session, Vol. 18 (Steeplechase) with Billy Drewes & Walt Weiskopf
  • 2008: Gratitude (Steeplechase)
  • 2009: Saxology (Steeplechase) with Jerry Bergonzi
  • 2010: Two Hearts (Steeplechase)
  • 2010: The Clouds Above (Audial) with Soren Moller
  • 2011: Bridging the Gap (Planet Arts) with Terell Stafford
  • 2011: Black Nile (Radiosnj) with Cameron Brown, Lorenzo Lombardo, & Gary Versace
  • 2012: Lookin' Up (Steeplechase)
  • 2014: Sweet Nowhere (Steeplechase) with Harold Danko

As a sideman[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Mr. Dick Oatts". Boyer College of Music and Dance. Temple University. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Dick Oatts". Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra". Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Film & the BB's". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "Dick Oatts". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  6. ^ "Dick Oatts". D'Addario Woodwinds. 

External links[edit]