The first born American and youngest member of a musical family, John Ricci had an eclectic musical upbringing. His family comes out of an Italian and Argentine background, his mother having performed opera in the Teatro Colon in Argentina when she was only a teenager, brothers that could play or sing any music they heard and a father who also sang and enjoyed anything and everything conducted by Arturo Toscanini. Starting on piano at age 7, John added saxophone at age 11 and was already improvising with everything from Jobim to Beatles records soon after.
Continuing on to study music, John attended the exclusive jazz studies program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. There, he was mentored directly by world renown jazz pedagogue and saxophonist Jerry Coker. He also had the opportunity study closely with internationally recognized pianist-composer and former Jazz Messenger Donald Brown. With a new vision and quest to become a strong a communicator of the idiom as well as a performer, he was awarded a teaching assistantship at the Florida State University School of Music jazz studies and contemporary media program. In that time he performed with Blue Note recording artist trumpeter Marcus Printup, performed at Preservation Hall in New Orleans, received outstanding soloist awards at the 1994 and 1995 Mobile National Jazz Festival, won an outstanding performance in the Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival, and won the combo division of the 1995 Down Beat Collegiate Music Awards.
He has since moved to Jacksonville Florida, having taught at the prestigious University of North Florida jazz program as a visiting professor assisting the saxophone teaching load for the legendary Bunky Green, recorded and arranged for Latin bassist and composer Angel Roman on the Mambo Blue CD Con Fuego, and recorded on violinist-singer composer Rebecca Zapen’s first CD release, Hummingbird. He was recently invited to perform with pianist Donald Brown in the Donald Brown Quintet (The Forces of Inspiration). He has also been directing and building a jazz program at Jacksonville University and performing regionally for festivals and jazz club bookings with his professional quartet for several years now.
John’s new CD Holding Time is a debut release of some of his own very inspired compositions and arrangements. The musicians accompanying him on this album are of the finest in the southeast. All grads from the award winning UNF Jazz Program that have since paved their own ways: pianist and composer Joshua Bowlus, bassist Billy Thornton and drummer Peter Miles (Miles can also be heard recording and touring for Marsalis Music guitarist-singer and composer Doug Wamble). This project has already been receiving some very high praise and critical acclaim. And in January 2009, John was named winner of the jazz song category of the 8th Annual Independent Music Awards with the opening track of the CD entitled "Mode Time".
Holding Time was recorded in a live studio setting with minimal processing and absolutely NO overdubbing to ensure a true and interactive performance. John’s sound, influences and style can be traced to such mentionable greats as Wayne Shorter, Branford Marsalis, Mark Turner, Joe Henderson, John Coltrane and Ben Webster. His compositions are a unique balance of sounds, framing the elements of traditional swing in a soulfully modern approach to harmony.