long bio


Rich Messbauer was born and raised in Bloomfield and Bridgewater, New Jersey, the son of Bill and Delores Messbauer.  He came from a very musical family.  His father’s mother had been a singer in vaudeville, and  his mother and father were avid fans of art, literature, photography and especially music. Both parents played piano, and his mother was an artist.

While growing up, Rich was exposed to a wide variety of jazz and classical music through his father’s interest in home made stereo equipment, which filled the house with music by Art Tatum, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Errol  Garner, Peter Nero, Bill Evans, George Shearing, Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Oscar Peterson, Pine Top Smith, and  numerous orchestral works by Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Strauss, Bartok, Moussorgsky and Respighi. When his father brought home a copy of Bill Evans’ “A Simple Matter Of Conviction”, with Eddie Gomez and Shelly Manne, Rich was hooked on the idea of playing the bass, and had his folks rent a Double-Bass from the junior high school for the exorbitant fee of $5.00 a semester.

At this time, Rich began studying with a friend of his older brother, Joe Bongiorno, who was attending the Juilliard Pre-College Division. Joe went on to the upper school, studying with the legendary bassist Homer Mensch, and has himself become one of the most in demand bassists in New York.

Joe suggested that Rich attend Red Fox Music Camp, located in the Berkshires, in western  Massachusetts, not far from Tanglewood. Red Fox Music Camp was run by the pianist Isabelle Saint’Ambrosio and her son John, a cellist with the Boston Symphony and later the principle cellist of the Saint Louis Symphony. This was an eight week summer program with faculty from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Saint Louis Symphony, among others. Spending summers in this setting, studying with the legendary bassist Leslie “ Tiny” Martin, who had worked with everyone from Benny Goodman to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and playing in a first rate student orchestra for the first time, hearing chamber music performances by Joseph Silverstien, David Bar-Ilan, Shelley Kane, along with hitching over to Tanglewood on weekends to hear the BSO, had a life changing effect. At around this time, Joe also suggested that Rich audition for the Juilliard Prep, and Rich started studying with Homer Mensch for two years at the Pre-College division, and then at the Juilliard School for four more years.

Joe had also exposed Rich to a lot of modern jazz and early fusion music that was happening at the time, such as Weather Report with Miroslav Vitous, Paul Winter with Ralph Towner, Chick Corea with Dave Holland, John Abercrombie and Jack DeJohnette, the bands “Dreams”, Tony Williams “Lifetime”, John McGlaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra--This music, which led to the discovery of so much more of the explosively creative music of the time and everything leading up to it, the music of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane (from his associations with Red Garland through Rashid Ali), Alice Coltrane, Leon Thomas, Pharoah Sanders, Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, Paul Chambers, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Wayne Shorter, Sam Rivers, Charles Lloyd, Keith Jarrett and Paul Motian, Monk, Mingus, Oliver Nelson, Horace Silver, Jaki Byard, Paul Bley, Steve Swallow, Gary Peacock, Scott LaFaro, Oscar Pettiford, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell, along with exposure to the same creative forces shaping classical music, what with Leonard Bernstein and then Pierre Boulez at the helm of the New York Philharmonic, led Rich to widen his studies beyond what Juilliard had to offer.

A number of students at the time had tried to get a jazz program started at Juilliard, but Juilliard President Peter Mennin rejected this, and squashed any possibility of there being a jazz department at the school for the remainder of his tenure. It was at this time in the late seventies that Rich had begun to broaden his studies outside Juilliard by studying with the great bassist and creative musician Cecil McBee.

Rich left the Juilliard School in 1980 to become Principle Bassist with the Orquestra Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico. He had played in another Mexican orchestra the summer before, (in 1979) the Philharmonica de las Americas, which played a summer season in Mexico City at Bellas Artes, recorded the Ginastera Violin Concerto with Ruggerio Ricci, and toured South America in September of that year, playing in Lima, Peru, and Buenas Aires, Argentina, at the Teatro Colon. Rich played in Mexico for a year and a half with OSEM, which was based in the city of Toluca, the capitol of the State of Mexico, up in the mountains outside of Mexico City. That orchestra played and recorded prolifically, and also toured throughout Mexico, playing in Toluca, Mexico City, Puebla, Jalapa, Tuxla, Tapachula, and San Cristobal de las Casas. While working there, Rich bought a wonderful Italian double-bass, made in Cremona, Italy, in 1929 by Bolondi Adrasto. After a year and a half in Mexico, Rich returned to New York, where he continued his studies with Cecil McBee.

At this time he also studied theory with pianist Fred Hersch, who encouraged Rich in his transcriptions of what some of the great bassists such as Paul Chambers had been playing on the recordings of Miles Davis and John Coltrane;  and with saxophonist Eric Kloss, who at the time was living in New Jersey. It was through his studies with Eric Kloss that Rich met a number of jazz musicians in New Jersey, among them Jack Winters, Ronnie Glick, Peter LeMaitre, Rich Rosenswieg, Glenn Davis, Roy Cumming, Bob Himmelberger, Joe Battaglia, Tom Sayek, Mike Hogan, Tom Baker, Knud Jensen, Herb Robertson and numerous others. In the late ’80’s, Rich had a trio with pianist Bob Himmelberger  that played and recorded original music with drummer Ronnie Glick, and which later performed at the Deer Head Inn, during the summer of ’92, with drummer Glenn Davis. 

In the late ’80’s and early ’90’s, Rich started touring with and subbing on various Broadway shows, among them: “Into The Woods”; ” Gypsy” with Tyne Daly; “Grand Hotel”; “Damn Yankees”; “Guys And Dolls”; “Crazy For You” and “The Good-Bye Girl” with Martin Short and Bernadette Peters. 

In the mid ’90’s, Rich left New York for Spain, where he had a one year contract as principle bassist with the Orchestra de Barcelona y Nacional de Catalunya, working there from late ’94 through ’96, at the Palau de la Musica. That orchestra also recorded, while Rich was there, Puccini’s “Tosca”, along with the works of Catalan composers such as Toldra, Montsalvage and Brotons. The orchestra toured Japan in ’95, playing in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and several other cities. From ’96 through ’97, while still based in Barcelona, Rich toured with the Broadway shows “42nd Street” (in Germany) and” Ain’t Misbehavin’”, featuring Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, with an onstage band consisting of Billy McDaniel, Stanton Davis, Clarence Banks, Eddie Alex and Donny Donnable,  touring throughout North America.) 

While living in Barcelona, Rich met and played with many wonderful creative musicians from around the world, such as Mario, Mercedes and Jorge Rossy, Albert Bover, Pau Bombardo, Ignazio Terassa, Alexis Cuadrado, Jerry Allen-Moye, Jordi Bonell, Gorka Benitez, Euclides Matos, Edson Pla, Steve deSwardt, and many others. 

Returning to New York in the late ’90’s, Rich freelanced and subbed on shows, among them “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum”, with David Allen Grier,  and Sam Mendes’ production of “Cabaret”, which featured an onstage band and starred Natasha Richardson and Alan Cumming, at the Henry Miller Theater, and later at Studio 54. He later toured with that show, appearing with members of that cast including Norbert Leo Butz, on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” while the show was in L.A. at the Wilshire Theater. That touring production also starred, at various times, Terri Hatcher, Joely Fisher, Lea Thompson, Kate Shindle and Andrea McArdle, and lasted into ’01, finishing with a one month run at the TBS Theater in Tokyo.

 After all that traveling, Rich wound up living at a house his family had owned for many years up in the Poconos, helping his brothers take care of his ailing parents. It was here that Rich began devoting more time to composing, and reconnecting with some of the many creative musicians he had met and recorded with through out the years. A trio emerged at this time with guitarist Joe Battaglia and drummer Glenn Davis, which became the seed for an idea of forming a series of seemingly unrelated trios, each of which would have it’s own unique character, in order to explore in completely different ways the format of the trio.

At this time, Rich formed his label, out/in:space-music. Initially, he recorded three trio CD’s, two with guitarist Joe Battaglia and drummer Glenn Davis, (titled: “Vol.1 FLYING SAUCERS” and “Vol.2 HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN”), and one with trumpet player Herb Robertson and drummer Tom Sayek, (titled: “DIABLO EN MUSICA”). After some more touring with a Broadway show, this time with a production of “The King And I” (for a company called Broadway Asia) in mainland China, S. Korea, Malaysia and Singapore, Rich produced three more CD’s. These consisted of two projects that had been recorded years earlier, a trio with saxophonist Jed Levy and drummer Jeff Brillinger, (titled “THREE BRIDGES TO BROOKLYN”) from ’92, and a trio with his brother Jim (aka “Mondongo”, a trombonist, composer and arranger active in the Boston latin scene for years), and percussionist Abe Gomez-Delgado, of the band “Zemog”, (titled “NEWARK MAN”) which had been recorded in ’05. The most recent recording was a trio date with pianist Dave Leonhardt and drummer Paul Wells, (titled “EVENING RUSH”) recorded in ’09, and featuring Rich’s compositions and arrangements of two standards. 

In 2010, Rich moved back to Manhattan, where he hopes to stay...........

Rich has been a member of Local 802 since the 1980’s

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