Ralph Sutton

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Ralph Sutton
Birth nameRalph Earl Sutton
Born(1922-11-04)November 4, 1922
Hamburg, Missouri, U.S.
DiedDecember 30, 2001(2001-12-30) (aged 79)
Evergreen, Colorado

Ralph Earl Sutton (November 4, 1922[1] – December 30, 2001)[2] 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 was born in Hamburg, Missouri, United States,[1] the son of Earl and Edna Sutton. His younger sister Barbara Sutton Curtis was also a jazz pianist.[3][4]

Sutton had a stint as a session musician with Jack Teagarden's band,[1] 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.[1] 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.[1] However, when the World's Greatest Jazz Band was established in 1968, he was the natural choice for piano.[1] 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, Colorado.[5]: 1–4, 133, 202 

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."[5]: 180 

Sutton died of a stroke in Evergreen, Colorado, at the age of 79.[2]


As leader[edit]

As co-leader[edit]

With Ruby Braff

  • Remembered (Arbors)
  • Ralph Sutton & Ruby Braff 1980 (Chaz Jazz Records inc.) CJ101
  • Ralph Sutton & Ruby Braff 1980 (Chaz Jazz Records inc.) CJ102

With Dick Cary

  • Rendezvous at Sunnie's 1969 (Arbors)

With Kenny Davern

  • Ralph Sutton and Kenny Davern Vol. I 1980 (Chaz Jazz Records inc.) CJ105
  • Ralph Sutton and Kenny Davern Vol. II 1980 (Chaz Jazz Records inc.) CJ106

With Dick Hyman

  • Dick Hyman/Ralph Sutton 1993 (Concord)

With Jay McShann

With Johnny Varro

  • *A Pair of Kings (Arbors)


  1. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 2425. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ a b Martin, Douglas (January 1, 2002). "Ralph Sutton, 79, the Pianist Known as the Master of Stride". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Famous Jazz Pianist Raises Funds to Refinish Piano". Ukiah Daily Journal. January 1, 1999. p. 5. Retrieved December 29, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Barbara Sutton Curtis" Ukiah Daily Journal (November 24, 2019).
  5. ^ a b Shacter, James D. (1975). Piano Man: The Story of Ralph Sutton. Chicago: Jaynar Press. ASIN B0006CEQ3Y.

External links[edit]