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Home » Week-Long Workshop Faculty » Dick Sisto

Dick Sisto

Dick SistoDick Sisto

Vibes, Drums

Dick began studying the vibes in Grammar school with marimba master Jose Bethancourt of the Chicago Symphony. He attended Notre Dame H.S., which also produced pianists Jim McNeely, Al Pheeney and trombonist James Pankow. While there he was awarded “best soloist” at the state competition. He attended North Texas State Univ. for one year and took a quartet to the Collegiate Jazz Festival where he was judged, “an excellent player” by Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. The following year he attended Northwestern Univ. playing in the lab band as a soloist along side David Sanborn. He left Northwestern to form The Quartet Four with drummer Maurice White, who later founded Earth, Wind and Fire.

After moving to northern California in the 70’s Sisto recorded with guitarist Jerry Hahn, drummer George Marsh, saxophonist Rich Fudoli, and pianist composer Bill ‘Allaudin’ Mathieu on Tom Buckner’s ground breaking album entitled Ghost Opera. He receieved a California Arts Council Grant, composing and performing music for the poetry of Gary Snyder and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

He relocated to Louisville Kentucky and played clubs and festivals throughout the midwest including The Jazz Showcase and the Green Mill in Chicago as well as The Jazz Kitchen In Indianapolis and the Blue Wisp in Cincinnatti . He has toured Great Britain five times, where he played prominent venues including the Pizza Express in London, where he received rave reviews. A few of the musicians he performed at Jazz Festivals with are Milt Hinton, David “Fathead’ Newman, Willie Pickens, Ira Sullivan, Fred Hersch and Barry Ries.

As music director of the famous Seelbach Hotel (as seen in films The Hustler and The Insider), Sisto’s trio worked with numerous players including Joe Morello, Joe and Pat Labarbera, Kevin Mahagony. Bobby Shew, Fred Hersch, Drew Gress, Barry Ries, Bob Shephard, David Hazeltine, Rufus Reid, Bobby Broom, Dave Samuels, Rich Perry, Andy LaVerne, Walt Weiskoff and many others including gigs with guitarists Larry Koonse in LA and Ben Monder in NYC.

Sisto has given clinics and master classes throughout the U.S. including the Univ. of N. Texas, Queens College in N.Y. and at Leigh Howard Stephen’s World Vibe Congress in Asbury Pk. New Jersey. He is the author of the popular Jazz Vibraphone Book, which is used as a text in many schools and has been the Vibraphone teacher at the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops for many years. He is a Musser vibraphone artist and has two Signature mallet models with Mike Balter Mallets.

As the host of two long-running Public Radio shows for the Louisville Public Media NPR affiliate station, Sisto has interviewed and performed with Phil Woods, Toots Thielmans, Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner , Don Braden, Barry Ries, Rufus Reid, Bob Bodley and many of the others mentioned in other contexts.

He has recorded four CD’s with Fred Hersch, Drew Gress, Tom Rainey, Kenny Werner, Barry Ries, Bobby Broom, Dennis Irwin, Jim Anderson and Mike Hyman. All the releases received heavy national airplay and were “charted”. After releasing American Love Song he was signed with Atlantic Records just before their demise. Sisto appears as a sideman on several albums including Mark Colby’s tribute to Stan Getz.

The original music on the CD Soul Searching was used as the sound track for the DVD documentary of the same name about the life of the monk, writer Thomas Merton, whom Sisto knew in the 60’s. The DVD has been aired several times on PBS.

His wife Penny is the internationally acclaimed fabric artist and son Jeremy Sisto is the accomplished actor of stage and screen.

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    2020 Workshop Dates

    Choose from 2 Weeks of Jazz:
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    • July 12th thru July 17th
    2-Day Workshops
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      “Anyone Can Improvise!” w/Jamey!
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      “Guitar/Bass/Drum” Workshop
    • July 11th & 12th
      “Guitar/Bass/Drum” Workshop
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      Jazz Piano Workshop
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      Vocal Workshop
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      Brazilian/Latin Jazz
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      Big Band Workshop