Rich Thompson

Associate Professor of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media

Director, Jazz Lab Ensemble
Instructor in Jazz Drumset




Drummer Rich Thompson has been in demand as a top call drummer in Rochester for the past 25 years. Besides serving as the drum set instructor at the Eastman School of Music since the fall of 1996, Rich has toured, performed, and recorded with the “who’s who” of jazz greats including pianist James Williams (Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers), The Count Basie Orchestra, Tito Puente, Frank Foster, The Byron Stripling quartet, saxophonist Rich Perry, the Bill Dobbins Trio, Harold Danko, Marion McPartland, Trio East (which includes Clay Jenkins and Jeff Campbell), trumpeter Snooky Young, guitarist Gene Bertoncini, Carl Fontana, Phil Woods, Joe Pass, and a host of others too numerous to mention. The Boston Globe cited Rich as “the drummer who drove the Basie sound” when he appeared with them at the Boston Jazz and Blues Festival.

Rich has been touring this country and abroad with the Byron Stripling Quartet for the past five years. His new CD entitled “Trio Generations” was released in May of 2012 on Origin Records. It was included on the long list for two Grammys. His new CD entitled “Less is More” was recorded with trumpet sensation Terell Stafford, pianist Gary Versace, and bassist Jeff Campbell and was released in March of 2013 on Origin Records also. In 2016 Rich recorded “Have Trumpet Will Swing” w/the Bryon Stripling Quartet and in 2017 “I Believe in You” by the group Triocity was released. Triocity features multi- saxophonist/reedman Charles Pillow and bassist Jeff Campbell.

Rich performs regularly with numerous symphonies in the U.S. and Canada, the world renowned “Jazz Cruise” and clubs throughout the U.S. and Europe with the Byron Stripling quartet.   His clinics and performances have taken him as far as France, Thailand, Japan, Switzerland and Newfoundland. Rich has written four drum set books published by Kendor Music USA and Advance/Schott Music-Germany. Visit Rich on his website to listen to clips or watch a video of his trio at the Rochester International Jazz Festival.

Works / Publications


  • How To Play Drums In A Big Band Advance Music
  • Modern Jazz Solos for Drum Set Kendor Music
  • Jazz Drum Set Solos,Vol. I (six solos inspired by bebop masters) Kendor Music
  • Drum Rappings School Music News Magazine, New York (Feb.2000)
  • Jazz Drumming Billy Hart/Rich Thompson, Advance Music
  • Pro Session Ben Riley Transcription, Downbeat magazine


  • Chamber Jazz Charles Pillow Ensemble (2020) Summit Records
  • I Believe In You Triocity w/Charles Pillow (2017) Origin Records
  • Have Trumpet Will Swing Byron Stripling Quartet (2016)
  • Mark Flugge Remembered Thompson Trio w/ Dobbins, Campbell (2015) Around Every Corner Records
  • Live+2 at Kilbourn Trio East (2015) Sons of Sounds Productions
  • For The Love Trio East (2015) Sons of Sounds Productions
  • Less is More Rich Thompson (2013) Origin Records
  • Generations Rich Thompson Trio (2012) Origin Records
  • Trilby The Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band (2011), Rick Holland Production
  • Evolution Dave Glasser (2010), Here Tiz Music
  • Share my Life Miles Brown Trio (2009), Brown Cats Productions
  • Jazz Pictures and Poems John Nyerges (2008), NBR Jazz
  • Bach to Bop and Back III Bill Dobbins Trio (2007), RIT Performing Artists Series
  • Fred Wesley & The Swing ‘N Jazz All-Stars (2006), Sons of Sound Records, NYC
  • Best-Bets Trio East (2006), Origin Records
  • Stop-Start Trio East (2005) re-release Sons of Sound Records, NYC
  • CrossWeave Kim Richmond / Clay Jenkins Ensemble (2004)
  • Campin’ Out Tom Garling Sextet (2004)
  • Live at the Little compilation CD with Trio East, Gene Bertoncini, others.
  • Dig Capitol Saxophone Quartet (2004)
  • Stop-Start Trio East (2003)
  • Classic Jazz Standards and Originals Diane Armesto, Danko(2003)
  • Rich Perry at Eastman Eastman Faculty Jazz Quartet plus Rich Perry (2002) Steeple Chase Records
  • The Question Is? Eastman Jazz Trio (Sept. 2000)
  • Society for Chamber Music in Rochester Chamber Jazz CD
  • Jeff Tyzik producer/conductor/arr. (2000)
  • Birch Creek Big Band 25 anniversary (2000)
  • RPO Holiday Pops Live II (1999)
  • Introducing Bobby Sneider (1998)
  • Time to Get Ready for Love Phil Freeman/prod. Jeff Tyzik (1998)
  • Various Ramon Ricker Play Along Improv Methods (95, 97, 98)
  • Count Basie Orchestra “Live in Milwaukee” (1997)
  • RPO Holiday Pops (1997)
  • RPO 75th Anniversary double CD (1997)
  • Tito Puente w/Count Basie Orchestra Jazzin (1996)
  • Dream Dancing Bill Grimes trio w/Frank Vincent & Rich Thompson (1996)
  • Barn Burner Birch Creek Faculty Big Band (1995)
  • Paradise the music of Billy Strayhorn, Bill Dobbins Trio (1990)
  • Eventually Rich Thompson/James Williams (1990)
  • Glass Enclosure Bill Dobbins Trio (1985)
  • Metaphysical Rumba Bevan Manson (1984)


  • The Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band WXXI SoundStage Series (2009)
  • Live at Birdland Count Basie Orchestra (1997)
  • Live in Bangkok Count Basie Orchestra, with Bennie Carter, Frank Foster, and Diane Schurr (1996)


Just For Love (For The Love, 2015)

Why Don’t I (For The Love, 2015)

Lotus Blossom (Less is more, 2013)

Less is More (Less is more, 2013)

Blues Connotation (Generations, 2012)

Next Morning (Generations, 2012)

Eventually (Fred Wesley & The Swing ‘N Jazz All-Stars, 2006)

Happy House (Trio East, 2005)

Campin’ Out (Tom Garling Sextet, 2004)

Why Don’t I