“A rising force in avant-garde jazz” (Jazz Times)
Before the release of her 2018 debut Fullmoon (Relative Pitch), Steph Richards had steadily established herself in NYC as an engaging experimentalist on the scene, recording with pioneering artists ranging Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton and John Zorn to David Byrne and Yoko Ono. Her sonic explorations also led to collaborations with artists ranging from Mike Kelly, Laurie Anderson/Lou Reed to Kanye West. Embracing experimental jazz, avant-rock and improvisation, her work is driven by a curiosity of how listeners interact with music and what sensory variables are open to experimentation. Manifestations of her curiosity often result in unexpected orchestrations such as; works for scent, carousel and choreographed ensemble, underwater percussion and 600 found objects. With premieres spanning across the US, Mexico, Canada and Europe, her works have been featured stages as iconic and varied as Carnegie Hall, the Blue-note and Lincoln Center.
As a soloist, Richards’ debut record Fullmoon (Relative Pitch Records) was hailed as a “bold pronouncement” by the New York Times and voted on multiple “Best of 2018” year end lists, including as the #1 Record of the Year by Free Jazz Collective. An electro-magnetic exploration of trumpet and resonating vibrations, the record also featured the work of pioneering electronic sampler J.A. Dino Deane. She immediately followed up with the 2019 release Take The Neon Lights, a quartet situated between experimental jazz, free funk and avant rock, It also received high praise from critics, Downbeat calling Steph “a virtuoso of nonlinear trumpet playing" and NextBop calling the record "mesmerising...fans of avant-garde jazz should definitely give this one a listen" .
Originally from Canada, Richards has spent much of her career in Brooklyn, NY. She has performed alongside the Kronos Quartet, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) as well as in the improvised scene with musicians such as Jason Moran, Ravi Coltrane and Sylvie Courvoisier. For years she co-produced the NYC-based FONT Music festival alongside trumpeter Dave Douglas, and now co-curates a West Coast version called FONT West.