Larry Ridley

1997 Living Legacy Awardee

Color photo of Larry Ridley playing his bass.

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Image: Larry Ridley. Credit:

Bassist Larry Ridley, one of the pioneers of collegiate jazz education, was the recipient of the 1997 Living Legacy Jazz Award.

Mr. Ridley has performed internationally and recorded with some of the greatest jazz musicians the world has known. During his career, he has performed with Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Clark Terry and Horace Silver.

Mr. Ridley’s broad experience and sense of historical context serves as a firm foundation for his teaching. As professor and chair of the music department at Livingston College of Rutgers University from 1972-1980, he created the undergraduate program and, later, a graduate degree jazz program.

Mr. Ridley is Professor Emeritus at Rutgers and holds a Doctor of Performing Arts degree from the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. He continues to conduct workshops and residencies internationally.

Mr. Ridley serves jazz education on both the national and international level. He has served as an advisor to the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) since 1978 and has been the Executive Director of IAJE’s African American Jazz Caucus from 2000 to present. From 1976 through 1978, he was the national coordinator of the Jazz Artists in the Schools Program for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Mr. Ridley continues to serve jazz education with community based jazz programming in the mid-Atlantic region. In 1985, he founded the Jazz Legacy Ensemble, and Jazz Legacy, Inc. The purpose of the organization is to: 1) perform the diverse repertoire of jazz’s many periods and styles; 2) provide emerging artists with the chance to perform with established artists; and 3) offer workshops and educational materials on jazz to teach children and adults about the art form.

In this capacity, Mr. Ridley has worked with the Philadelphia Housing Authority and currently serves as Jazz Artist in Residence at the New York City Library’s Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture. There, he and the Jazz Legacy Ensemble present thematic performance projects that showcase the work of jazz musicians such as Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter, Bud Powell, Clifford Brown, Sonny Stitt and Dexter Gordon.

In addition to the 1997 Living Legacy Award, Mr. Ridley is the recipient of the Howard Univeristy¬†“Benny Golson Award” (2001) and has been inducted into the Downbeat Magazine Jazz Education¬†Hall of Fame (1999) and the IAJE Jazz Educators Hall of Fame (1998).

*Bio from Award presentation.