Richie Cole

Madison Music Collective and
Madison Opera are proud to present

"Jazz at the Opera"

"The Keeper of the Bebop Flame"


and the

Madison Alto Madness Orchestra

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2:00 pm
Reception and Q&A with Richie Cole

3:00 pm Concert

Madison Opera Center
335 W. Mifflin St., MADISON, WI

In celebration of Madison Opera's upcoming production of Charlie Parker's Yardbird. by Daniel Schnyder, the afternoon starts with legendary saxophone player Richie Cole in conversation with Chris Wagoner, followed by two sets of this acclaimed musician with the Madison Alto Madness Orchestra. In addition, Madison Opera Studio Artist Anna Polum will sing an aria from Charlie Parker's Yardbird. Read more below.

SEATING IS LIMITED. Tickets in advance only.
General Admission tickets: $25 at:

or by calling Madison Opera at 608.238.8085

Light hors d'oeuvres will be served,
and a cash bar will be available.

Richie Cole


Richie Cole started playing alto saxophone when he was 10 years old in his home town of Trenton, New Jersey. Influenced by Sonny Rollins and Charlie Parker, Cole’s talent and dedication won him a full scholarship from Downbeat Magazine to the Berklee School of Music in Boston.

His professional career began in 1969 when he joined the Buddy Rich Big Band. After stints with the Lionel Hampton Big Band and the Doc Severinsen Big Band, Cole formed his own quintet and toured worldwide, doing a great deal to popularize bebop and his own “Alto Madness” style in the 70s and early 80s.

Cole has performed and recorded with the great vocalese artist Eddie Jefferson, the Manhattan Transfer, Bobby Enriquez, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, Tom Waits, Boots Randolph, and Nancy Wilson, to name just a few of his musical collaborations. Notably, Cole has performed at the Village Vanguard and Carnegie Hall as well as given a command performance for the Queen of England.

Cole has recorded over 50 albums and CDs, including his top hit album “Hollywood Madness” (1979 Muse Records) and his tribute album to Leonard Bernstein, “Richie Cole Plays West Side Story” (1997 Music Masters Jazz). A prolific composer, Cole also finds time to arrange for full big bands, symphony orchestras and frequent performances at jazz festivals worldwide. Moreover, he enjoys sharing his love of music with younger generations and is active recording, touring, and presenting university master classes.

Cole was appointed to the Board of the National Jazz Service Organization and to the National Endowment for the Arts Board where he served as chairman for one year. He is also a charter 20member of the International Association of Jazz Educators. In 2005 he was awarded the State of California Congressional Certificate of Lifetime Achievement in Jazz on behalf of the Temecula Jazz Society. He is recognized worldwide for the sweet sounds of his alto saxophone and the creativity behind his Alto Madness Orchestra.


The idea of the Alto Madness Orchestra was developed by Cole in the early 90s and its continuing popularity is proof of its uniqueness. As Cole explains, “The idea of the Orchestra is the concept and sound of an eighteen-piece big band using a only seven instruments, four of which are horns. Not only does this have the big band ensemble sound, it also allows us plenty of room for improvisation as if we were in a quartet setting.”

The Madison version of the Alto Madness Orchestra was formed by widely known and formerly-local alto sax musician, Eric Koppa in 2013 in collaboration with Cole. The orchestra had Cole’s blessing and some 200 original arrangements, partly-inspired by his time with The Buddy Rich Big Band, with which Cole performed for years. Known affectionately as a “Little Buddy Rich Band”, The Madison Alto Madness Orchestra is dedicated to more traditional jazz and bebop.


  • Eric Koppa – Alto/Tenor Saxophone - Musical Director
  • Nick Bartell – Tenor Saxophone
  • Jim Doherty – Trumpet
  • Paul Dietrich – Trumpet
  • Darren Sterud – Trombone
  • Jamie Kember – Trombone
  • Dave Stoler – Piano
  • Vince Jesse – Guitar
  • Matt Heredia – Bass
  • Todd Hammes – Drums

ABOUT CHARLIE PARKER’S YARDBIRD, an opera with music by Daniel Schnyder and a libretto by Bridgette A. Wimberly:

New York City, 1955. As his body lies unclaimed in the morgue, saxophone great Charlie Parker returns in spirit to the jazz club Birdland, determined to compose a final masterpiece. Family and friends blend in and out of his memories in an acclaimed new opera that tells of his tortured, brilliant life “with a pulsing, jazz-infused score” (The New York Times).

Charlie Parker’s Yardbird was widely praised following its 2015 premiere in Philadelphia. The Wall Street Journal said, “its rhythms snap and swing, its melodies – including real arias – seize the ear, its ensembles crackle with energy.”

Madison Opera will be only the second company to perform this theatrical tour de force that melds jazz and opera. Performances are February 10 and 12, 2017 in the Capitol Theater at the Overture Center for the arts. Tickets are available at or by calling 608-258-4141.

Madison Opera

Madison Opera is a non-profit professional opera company based in Madison, Wisconsin. Founded in 1961, the company grew from a local workshop presenting community singers in English-language productions to a nationally recognized organization producing diverse repertoire and presenting leading American opera singers alongside emerging talent. A resident organization of the Overture Center for the Arts, Madison Opera presents three productions annually in addition to the free summer concert Opera in the Park and a host of educational programming.

Madison Music Collective

Madison Music Collective is a non-profit membership organization founded in 1985 that works to build a thriving creative music community in the Greater Madison area by growing the local audience for jazz and other forms of improvised music. MMC offers a seasonal series of concerts and educational programs, as well concerts featuring local, regional, and nationally known jazz artists.

Madison Music Collective’s 2017 Winter-Spring Series is made possible by grants from Dane Arts (with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation), The Evjue Foundation, Inc. (The charitable arm of the Capital Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation, and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation), Greater Madison Jazz Consortium, Madison Gas & Electric (MGE), Cardinal Bar, Janus Galleries, Madison Opera, membership dues and charitable gifts from members and supporters of the Madison Music Collective, in-kind support from The UW School of Music, Sun Prairie High School, The Brink Lounge, the UPS Store-Fitchburg, Hilton Madison Monona Terrace, and promotional support from Isthmus, WORT-89.9 FM, and the Capital City Hues and our partners in jazz: Greater Madison Jazz Consortium, Madison Jazz Society, Wisconsin Union Theater, Overture Center, Stoughton Opera House, Jazz at Five, and Prairie Music and Arts.

The Brink Lounge