Ralph Sutton

American jazz pianist Ralph Earl Sutton was born in Hamburg, Missouri on 4 November 1922. He died 30 December 2001 in Evergreen, Colorado. Ralph Sutton was the most prolific stride pianist since World War II. His closest competitors were the late Dick Wellstood, and the versatile Dick Hyman. Sutton was almost the only person of his generation to keep alive the piano styles and improvisations of James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. Sutton was true to his predecessors’ music, but he gave the music his own personal touch. Few could match his powerful left-hand. Ralph Sutton was briefly in Jack Teagarden’s big band in 1942, before he joined the Army. He appeared on Rudi Blesh’s This Is Jazz radio program and was the intermission pianist at Eddie Condon’s club for eight years, where he recorded often. After spending time in San Francisco playing, he worked for Bob Scobey and moved to Aspen in mid-’60s. He was an original member the World’s Greatest Jazz Band, along with Yank Lawson and Bob Haggart. He recorded many great albums for Chaz in the 1970s and later cut albums for quite some labels. Sutton survived a stroke in early 1990s and continued to be active through the mid-2000s. He also played at jazz festivals and parties. Sutton died unexpectedly in his car at Evergreen’s restaurant on December 29, 2001. He would have been more famous if he was born in the 1930s and reached maturity in the 1950s. However, it was clear that Ralph Sutton had earned his spot among the most renowned jazz pianists of all times. Text contributed by users is available under Creative Commons By–SA License. It may also be available under GNU FDL.

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