Richard Tee
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Richard Tee

Band Jazz Funk


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The best kept secret in music


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Richard Tee-Bottom Line (2003)
Richard Tee-Real Time (1992)
Richard Tee-Inside You (1989)
Richard Tee-The Bottom Line (1985)
Richard Tee-Contemporary Piano (1982)
Richard Tee-Natural Ingredients (1980)
Richard Tee-Strokin' (1978)

*See for work as a sideman and collaborator:



Richard Tee (1943-1993) Highly regarded R&B and funk session keyboardist, who's worked on hundreds of sessions by every major name in the rock, soul and R&B worlds. He made his own recordings and also worked with studio ensembles like Stuff. A top rate keyboardist in studio. Richard Tee died from prostate cancer at the age of 49.

Over the course of a career that spanned some 25 years, Richard Tee defined the sound of contemporary music. From the mid '60s through the early '90s, when you heard a new tune on the radio with a particularly soulful piano, Rhodes, or B-3 part, he probably played it. In the recording industry he was royalty, a top-call player sought out by top producers such as Phil Ramone and Berry Gordy.

He was born in Brooklyn, the son of Helen and Edward Ten Ryk, and later changed his name to Tee. He graduated from the High School of Music and Art and attended the Manhattan School of Music. In addition to his widow Eleana, he is survived by his mother, Helen Ten Ryk of Brooklyn; six sons, and two stepdaughters.

He is buried in the Artist Cemetery in Woodstock, NY. He loved Woodstock, and many great nights were spent at Joyous Lake laying with the band STUFF.

His recordings still continue to have an enormous impact on keyboardists around the world. From Aretha Franklin to Mariah Carey, Tee's parts were more than just the padding beneath the vocals on hit after hit -- they were an integral part of the arrangement. Often his intros and turnarounds became hooks themselves, the most memorable parts of the songs.

RICHARD TEE Real Time 1993:

Richard Tee appeared on more than 400 albums as a sideman, including longtime stints with Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin. It should be no surprise, then, that the music heard on this last album before his death in 1993 should have elements of soul, funk, and gospel.

Real Time is what could be called a swaying album. It can be danced to, but the performances are so low-key and sincere that dancers would only have to stay in place and sway to the music. In addition to his usual spells on the piano and keyboards, Tee sings in a slow, soulful voice that adds to the peacefulness of the proceedings. There's no shouting on this disk. The vocalizing is especially ear-catching on "I Miss You My Love" and "Without You." Even on "That's the Way of the World," a funky piece where the pace picks up a bit and the rhythm is more pointed, considerable restraint by the players is shown. This track features smoking guitar by Eric Gale. As on many of the cuts, strings are present, and they contrast nicely with the funky goings-on.

Not all of the tunes are Tee originals; there are a couple of standards. On one, "My Funny Valentine," the demeanor changes considerably. Tee steps back from his keyboards as he improvises around the melody line on piano. "Take the 'A' Train" has classical overtones, with rippling trills, runs, and arpeggios letting snippets of the melody sneak in during this eight-and-a-half-minute track that explores variations on a theme.

With longtime associate Steve Gadd on drums and Will Lee on bass, augmented from time to time by horns and guitar, this is a fine album by a performer who had more influence on fellow musicians than most realize.
~ Dave Nathan, All Music Guide