Richard Ormrod

A bandleader, educator, composer and writer living in Leeds, Richard Ormrod presents unique and spirited performance projects in the North of England combining original composition, improvisation & spoken word, with a broad range of musical influences, from Blankety-Blank to Play Your Cards Right.

Richard joined his dad’s bands SKAVILLE TRAIN (and then SKA BOP) as a keyboard player in 1988 and has been playing professionally since his teens. Later he was educated at Leeds College of Music and graduated in 1998 with an honours degree(1st) in Jazz Studies.

Allegedly a saxophonist, he has since diversified onto a huge range of instruments including most of the saxophone, clarinet and flute families, piano and accordion, guitars, banjo, ukulele, bouzouki and bass guitar, trombone, dulcimer, vibraphone, steel pan, drums, congas and percussion.

Richard has played for twenty years with the steel pan player, arranger and educator Dudley Nesbitt in the Calypso-Jazz band PANJUMBY, and also with guitarist JONNY FLOCKTON, with whom he played in HOME OF THE BRAVE and now in the REDIFFUSION ALL-STARS and CAPRA.

Richard was a founder member of LIMA (LEEDS IMPROVISED MUSIC ASSOCIATION), and played for many years in different combinations with drummer and improviser PAUL HESSION and bassist RUS PEARSON. RASHOMON featured some of the finest Leeds-based improvisers of that generation.

He founded a (really quite good) Reggae band with drummer and producer SAM HOBBS, called DREAD SUPREME. Their first recording explored the cosmic music of John Coltrane, the second covered the songs of Jackson C. Frank and Bill Wilson.

He works regularly with the York ARTS BARGE collective and fronts and composes for the York-based big band BLIND TIGER DANCE ORCHESTRA.

Richard is an in-demand arranger for workshops, projects and groups and recently contributed two arrangements to Seckou Keita’s performance at the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds.

In 2015, Ashgate published a hardback edition of Elvis Costello and Thatcherism: a Psycho-Social Exploration, that Richard co-wrote with the social psychologist and medical sociologist David Pilgrim. A paperback pressing was issued in 2016. In 2007 Richard worked with his friend, musician MATT BOURNE, on the project STOPCOCK STOCKPOT, which used a lot of literary techniques derived from OuLiPo, the international group of writers founded in 50s France, and culminated in the performance piece The Pledge, 50 Variations on the American Pledge of Allegiance.

From 2007-2010 Richard was a part of the Leeds-based group BLACK DOGS, a really lovely art group with anarchist & situalionalist fantasies and flock-based pub tendencies, with whom he enjoyed doing very long readings of Beckett novels and smashing up a piano in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern.

A selection of Richard Ormrod projects:

  • Capra [Ambient trio] (2018-19)

  • ReDiffusion Allstars [Jazz/Soundtrack Quintet] (2016-19)

  • Dread Supreme [Reggae/Jazz group] (2013-17)

  • Dales Jam [Community Orchestra] (2003-19)

  • Jam Factory [Community Orchestra] (1997-2019)

  • RAMjam [Community Youth Orchestra] (2008-18)

  • Home of the Brave [Jazz/Soundtrack Quartet] (2007-16)

  • Stockpot Stopcock [Improvisation/Literature Duo] (2007-10)

  • Unit of Resistance [Improvisation Trio] (2007-10)

  • Swinepipe [Clarinet Quartet] (2007-10)

  • Noises for the Leg [Choreography/Improvisation] (2006-7)

  • Peter Blake Project [Music/Art for schools] (2006)

  • Rashomon [Contemporary Sextet] (2002-10)

  • Rinkadon Jukeboy and his Gargantuan Comic Node Chautauqua [Contemporary Jazz Orchestra] (2004-6)

  • Small World Band [Community Workshop] (2002-4)

  • Juggling Air [jazz performance workshop] (2001)

  • Jazzbeat! [jazz performance workshop] (2001)

  • The Sephardistas [Klezmer/Improvisation Quartet] (2001-5)

  • JGR Trio [Modern Jazz] (1999 – 2002)

  • The Black and Blue Devils [Swing Dance Band] (1999-2001)


Richard has been working in education since meeting the respected Jazz educator and bassist STEVE BERRY at LCM in 1996; two years later Steve offered him a post as assistant MD in JAM FACTORY, a Community Jazz Orchestra based in Blackburn, Lancashire. Jam Factory has been running for over twenty years now and Richard has been leading it for the last fourteen years.

In 2003 Richard started up DALES JAM in Craven as a Yorkshire answer to the Jam Factory; both groups are going strong and in 2008 Dales Jam supported the formation of RAMJAM in Settle, a Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Richard directs all three ensembles and runs them as ‘rolling workshops’ in musicianship, performance and improvisation, as well as composing/arranging for each band with the capacities of the individual musicians in mind and mentoring various band members in their own compositional efforts.