By Patte Purcell
In my work trying to promote jazz in the desert I’ve gotten to know some wonderful musicians. After the BMW of Palm Springs Smooth Jazzfest at the Riviera we had a VIP Afterparty and Jam and artists were invited to join. One of those was Rick Parma, a sax player and vocalist from Long Beach. The jam was free flowing and Rick took control and impressed us all with his professionalism and talent. He attended the first Celebrity Jazz Jam at Arnold Palmers and again did a great job. He’s appearing as a headliner at the next Celebrity Jazz Jam Jan. 18 at the Desert Willow Golf Resort.
A native from Chicago, he was introduced to smooth jazz on the radio at the age of 9 and loved it. Sax was his favorite instrument.
Rick first learned to play the sax in band class in High school. He had always been intrigued with the sax and when someone left an old sax in a rental that was vacated, Rick kept it even though it didn’t work.
His band director told him he would fix it for a chocolate cake from Rick’s mother and that is what he practiced on constantly. (His mother did bake a chocolate cake for him).
The school band he was in was so hot they started taking all of the state awards and he became close friends with many of the band members. This spawned a core band of 15 that formed and were promoted by their teachers. They played for events and performed in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Rick was hungry for more and asked his teacher (who was a great musician) for a tape of some music. His teacher introduced him to a tape by Warren Hill, Eric Marienthal, David Sanborn and Boney James. He wore it out practicing.
At age 15, Rick was watching a Dave Koz live show on TV and thought, ‘this is what I want to do’. Everything he did was working towards that goal. He started performing in Chicago and started packing the houses with his funk band. He ended up splitting from his band to do what he loved, smooth jazz.
He took a giant leap of faith and moved to LA to do just that. He had seen that Dave Koz was performing at Spaghettinis so he put the address into his navigation and took off. He left with a foot of snow on the ground and made the trek from Chicago through Denver where he stopped and jammed with Nelson Rangell at “Jazz at Jacks” then continued through Utah, and finally Las Vegas and drove right to the door to Sphagettinis. He decided to come back the next day after he’d showered and rested. He had spoken with a manager and asked to play there. The manager invited him to come in and bought him dinner and he sat in with the band. He then drove to Tarzana and jammed with another band. He went to Spaghettini’s every night for 10 days and was invited to sell his CD’s when he sat in. He went to see Gerald Albright on a Sunday and heard DW3, and they invited him to sit in with them every Sunday. They told him he could sell his CDS (he had 2 at the time) Now get this… he sold on average $400 a night selling his CDs. He was making more than the artists! They asked Rick to sell their CDs too, so he became their merch guy as well. You’ve got to love an entrepreneur!
From there he started getting bookings and decided to record another CD. His song “Hey Girl” was written by keyboardist Greg Manning and as you can imagine it’s a funky song! It’s on his Pieces of Heaven CD.
His latest song,”Beseme Client” includes Grammy nominated Greg Adams and is about to hit the charts. It was ‘most added’ just a couple of weeks ago on the Groove Jazz charts.
He performs solo and with his band all over southern California with a mixture of smooth jazz and R&B.
Rick will be appearing as one of the headliners at the next Celebrity Jazz Jam on Monday Jan. 18, from 5-8 pm at Desert Willow Golf Resort, performing with Blake Aaron, Greg Manning, Darryl Williams, Slim Man, Aysha, Joe Baldino, Chase Huna, Craig Chesnut, John Carey, Rose Mallett, Bonnie Gilgallon and Tazz Washington. Expect a great performance and some very funky music.
If you’d like to learn more about Rick you can contact him via his website at www.rickparma.com