.. .. .. .. At the age of nine, Vicki began playing in her public school’s instrumental program. Her musical father noticed her passion for music and encouraged her to continue. By the time she turned fourteen, Vicki Richards decided that being a professional musician was her life’s calling. A unique talent, Vicki has developed a distinctive new style of playing the violin, taking bowing and articulation from her “western” classical training, smooth vocal style glissandos from her North Indian classical music immersion and combining these with the driving hand drum rhythms of contemporary and ancient world music.
At the age of nineteen, Vicki was well on her way to establishing her professional status as a classical violinist. She had toured Europe, taken master classes with Joseph Gingold at Indiana University and become the youngest member of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. Curious and restless, she listened intently to jazz contemporaries including Jan Hammer, John McLaughlin, Airto, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock.
Her love for the avant guarde scene continued to blossom and in 1976 she commissioned a custom-built, solid body electric violin with quadraphonic pick-ups and plugged it into a wah-wah pedal and a Fender amp. Uncomfortable with jazz’s approach to harmonic improvisation, she became intrigued with the rhythmical and classical improvisational methods of the Banaras tabla tradition.
Vicki was awarded a Professional Development Grant from the America Institute of Indian Studies (Univ of Chicago) in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution which enabled her to spend many months in Banaras, India where she experienced total immersion in the culture and classical traditions of the Hindustani violin under the guidance of violin master Smt. Dr. N. Rajam and sitar virtuoso Sri Amar Nath Misra.
Upon her return from the East, she re-settled in New York City for a short time, sharing the stage with improvisers such as Paul McCandless of Oregon and Dave Samuels of Spyro Gyra and working as a full time member of the American Jewish Congress’ New Music Ensemble. She also appeared as a soloist playing Indian classical violin at Carnegie Recital Hall, catching the attention of a world-renowned New York Times critic and establishing herself as one of the few Westerners recognized as legitimate exponents of pure Indian classical tradition.
In 1981, her intense interest in rhythm led to a close collaboration with Robert Thomas Jr. of Weather Report the Zawinul Syndicate) fame. She also began melodic and harmonic collaboration with Amitava Chatterjee, an electric guitarist and sitarist with a shared vision of improvisation using both Eastern and Western elements. Bobby’s compelling hand drumming and Amit’s melodic and harmonic concepts form the perfect grid over which Vicki works her technical and melodic wizardry. Vicki’s association with Bobby and Amit continues to this day.
In South Florida collaborations have included Frank Carmelitano, Statoshi Takeishi, Jean Balduc & many more players.
Currently her music colleagues also include Jeff Deen (tabla & percussion), Mitch Kopp (guitars), Layne Redmond, Jorge Alfano (multiinstrumentalist) & Amit Chatterjee on occasion.
She continues to enjoy playing live and interviewing on radio. WLRN (Michael Stock) & WVUM have been most recent.
John Diliberto’s “Echoes” radio show (NPR)