Richard Elliot Biography

Glasgow, Scotland, but raised in Los Angeles, California, USA. It was perhaps inevitable, for a musician growing up in the 60s and early 70s, that Elliot’s early taste would range through Motown Records and rock. However, he was also indelibly impressed by R&B. As a tenor saxophonist he found much that appealed to him in this form but he was also aware of jazz, in particular through the playing of Dexter Gordon. It was a visit to a concert by Gordon that prompted Elliot onto the jazz path, although in his case it proved to be a path with many turnings. As he honed his skills Elliot found work in the Los Angeles studios, backing artists such as Natalie Cole, Pointer Sisters and Melissa Manchester. He was a member of the Tower Of Power horns from 1982 until 1987. He began recording under his own name in 1986, and in succeeding years produced albums that displayed growing confidence. They were also increasingly successful. Fortuitously, Elliot had found that his favourite musical forms, with their jazz-inflections, R&B-base, and rock-tinges, were also popular with the record-buying public. His late 80s sessions for Manhattan Records were reissued in the early 90s by his new label, Blue Note Records, and proved to be just as popular as before.

By the late 90s, Elliot was sufficiently well-established to produce Jumpin’ Off on which he played mostly within the R&B style, a deliberate reversion to a form that had been at the height of its commercial acceptability almost two decades before Elliot was born. By this time, however, Elliot’s eclecticism was stretching still further and, like many musicians of his generation, he was developing a serious interest in salsa. In addition to playing tenor, on which he produces a rich and expressive sound, Elliot is also very effective on soprano saxophone.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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