RSTrio - The Home of 
"Earth & Sky," aka The
Richard Shulman Trio


Earth & Sky


Jazz Bio

Pianist/composer Richard Shulman has been exploring inspiration through Jazz in his recordings, performances and compositions since 1983. The intent behind his music is healing, connection, and the expression of beauty. 

Shulman has recorded 24 of his own albums, most of which are available on the label, RichHeart Music. Trained in the classical and jazz fields, he has developed a heartfelt language in these genres while splitting his output between jazz and music for meditation, healing and inspiration. 

Shulman has performed at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Art Park, the United Nations, the Kool Jazz Festival, The Amenia Peace Festival and a wide variety of other venues throughout North America and in Europe.

As a composer, Shulman has created over sixty five pieces for jazz groups as well as songs and pieces for chamber ensembles, choir, and symphony orchestra. Commissions include a piece for the Amherst Saxophone Quartet, and "May Peace Prevail on Earth" for singers, symphony orchestra, three choirs, and jazz quartet, created for the World Peace Prayer Society. 

Born and raised in Niagara Falls, New York, he began piano lessons at age seven. As a teenager Richard played organ at various churches, was the music counselor at a summer camp in Canada, and joined a rock band with future jazz recording artists Thom Rotella and Bobby Previte. Shulman graduated from the University of Rochester with a double-major Bachelor's degree in music (piano performance) and psychology while continuing to perform with Previte in the jazz-fusion band Thermopylae.

While at Rochester, Shulman also attended the prestigious Eastman School of Music and studied jazz improvisation with Chuck Mangione and Marian McPartland, orchestration with Donald Hunsberger and arranging with the legendary Rayburn Wright. Shulman continued his studies in jazz with Frank Foster while getting his Masters Degree in musical composition at the State University of New York at Buffalo. During those years he played onstage in concert with such jazz stalwarts as Thad Jones, Eddie Gomez, Pepper Adams, Jerry Dodgion, Freddie Hubbard and Al Harewood, and recorded his first jazz album, Wonder.

Local musicians he played with in Buffalo included Bilal Abdullah, Sabu Adeyola, Abdul Rachmann Kadir, Charlie Fadale, Rick Fadale, Greg Millar, Jim Kurzdorfer, James Clark, Peter Piccirilli, Joel Perry, Dan Mink, Daryl Washington, Junnieh Booth, Gus Broncato, Ron Mendola, Mike Migliore, Gerry Eastman, Lenny Reforgiato, Dave Alderson, and Richard Tabnick.

After moving to New York City, Shulman played in the studio as a session musician with the great jazz rhythm section of Ron Carter and Grady Tate; performed with groups such as The Richard Reiter Swing Band, Providence and Crossing Point; and recorded and performed with the acts Mr. Spats (Steve Evans, June Bisantz, Steve Swallow and Bob Moses) and Bobby Previte (with Dave Hofstra, Tom Varner and Lenny Pickett). The Richard Shulman Group, a jazz quartet, played regularly in the New York area and recorded the albums A Simple Gift and Open Spaces, and Richard also released the solo jazz piano album Solo Flight.  Members of the Richard Shulman Group in NYC included, saxophone players Tim Moran, Dave  Binney, and Marty Fogel, Bassists Dean Johnson, Greg Cohen, Lindsey Horner, Paul Avgerinos, Kevin McCarthy and Sue Williams, and drummers Bobby Previte, Brian Doherty and John Clay.

An injury in 1977 led Shulman to begin exploring  healing aspects of music, and his studies in healing and meditation have informed his music ever since.

While in NYC Shulman played in many venues including, Greene St., The Angry Squire, 55 Grand, The Village Gate, Visiones, West Boondock, The Bitter End, Hisae’s, Cousins(Brooklyn), Arthur’s (Hoboken). with many additional musicians, including Luther Rix, Marc Sganga, Charlie DesCarfino, Bill Evans (sax), Vinnie Bianchi, Walter Moorman, Drori Mondlak, David Gross, Jack Dryden, Martin Aubert, Lynn Seaton, Dore DiQuatro, Rob Bulkley, Jeff Van Nostrand, Warren Fioretti, Brad Gregory and the Vegas East Big Band, Michael Gaeta, Aaron Heick, Jack Bashkow, Arthur Kell, Mikko Mikkola, Ratzo Harris, and Ted Moore.

Singers he played for included Maxine Brown, Rosemary Loar, Miriam Raiken, Pat Tortoricci, Elizabeth Hepburn, Pat Arena, Vickie Obermeyer, and Shanti & Valli Rajah.

In December 1989 Shulman moved to Woodstock NY, where he concentrated on recording promoting and performing meditative music, including solo concert touring along the East Coast of the US. In October 1998 he moved to Asheville NC, where he resumed his focus on Jazz while continuing to work with meditative music.

From 1996 through 2005 Richard focused on the creation of the CD and DVD/video Camelot Reawakened: A Vision Fulfilled. This project follows the theme of "Dreams of the Heart" coming true. The CD and DVD feature a 35- piece orchestra consisting of members of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, a choir, soloists, and Shulman at the piano. The concert and recording session were conducted by Robert Hart Baker.

Related albums recorded during this time include the Healing Touch CD First Rites and a musical aid to introspection, Music to Walk the Labyrinth. The Camelot Reawakened CD won a 2003 Coalition of Visionary Resources (COVR) Visionary Award, and the DVD was a finalist in the 2006 awards. The DVD has also won an Award of Excellence and an honorable mention in the 2007 Accolade Competition. Shulman followed the completion of "Camelot Reawakened" with a theatrical musical based on a similar theme titled "A Dream of Camelot" with performances produced in 2009, 2011 and 2012 in the Asheville area.

A concert in 2007 with bassist Mike Holstein and drummer Sonny Thornton led Shulman to realize that this trio had the sympatico to become his regular group.  2009 brought the release of Sky Jazz, the Richard Shulman Trio's first CD.  A Youtube playlist of the trio is available here.

In 2013 Shulman released a meditative ensemble album with the Pure Heart Ensemble entitled "Bliss of Being" The album was nominated for a Zone Music Reporter award in the “Best New Artist” category, tracked at #11 for two months on the ZMR chart and was #1 on Music Direct’s “Soundscapes” twice and in their top 20 for over a year.


Since 1998 Shulman has been an active participant in the lively Asheville NC music scene, playing at many venues including the Isis Restaurant and Music Hall, Lex 18 Restaurant and Moonshine Bar, the Biltmore Estate, White Horse Black Mountain, the Classic Wine Seller, the Waynesville Arts Council, the Hendersonville Arts Council, Burntshirt Vineyards, and the Grove Park Inn. He works with two big bands on a regular basis, the Asheville Jazz Orchestra and Russ Wilson’s Nouveau Passe Jazz Orchestra and has performed with many bands and musicians regionally including the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, The Jonathan Stout Orchestra, Michael Gamble’s Rhythm Serenaders, bassists Eliot Wadopian, Zack Page, Daniel Iannucchi Bill Fauti, James Simmons, Sandy Boone and Shannon Hoover, drummers Rick Dilling, Justin Watt, Byron Hedgepeth, Michael W. Davis, Dave & Jeff Rudolph, trumpet players Rich Willey, Justin Ray (Michael Buble), Don Eisaman (Don Edwards), Woody Dotson, Andy Sorenson, Patrick Lopez, Ben Hovey, John Entzi, Charles Parker, sax players Jacob Rodriguez (Michael Buble), Todd Wright, Jim Anthony, Ray Spires, Joel Helfand, and Frank Southecorvo, trombonists Rick Simmerly ( Milligan College TN), Walton Davis, Dave Wilken, and Alan Greene,  guitartists Hank Bones, Chris Morgan, and Mark Guest, and vibraphonists, Paul Babley, and Jason DeCristofaro.  Singers he has  worked with include Timothy O’Keefe (Remembering Frank Sinatra), Jesse Earl Junior (from NYC), Heather Masterton, Wendy Jones, Paula Hanke, Sherman Hoover, Peggy Ratusz, Rockell Scott and Amy Rae Stupka.

Most recently Shulman has played “warm up” sets for Grammy winning saxophonist and composer Paul Winter as Part of UNC-Asheville’s “Ecomusicology” conference and for National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellow, Sheila Kay Adams as part of the concert “Appalachian Holiday” with National Hammered Dulcimer 2003 Champion, Joshua Messick.

Shulman currently is an adjunct instructor of jazz piano at the University of North Carolina – Asheville and also performs regionally at various churches, having held positions at the Center for Spiritual Living–Asheville and Jubilee! Community Church.

Projects for 2015 include “Buried Diamond,” a new jazz trio album, “Snow Days,” a holiday album, “Indigo Fantasy,” a large scale piece for studio orchestra commisioned by Russ Wilson, “A Carolina Christmas,” a charity production to benefit hunger and help homeless veterans in Western North Carolina, and the revision of a childrens musical written in 1990.

Richard Shulman currently lives in Asheville, NC and performs and records regionally and internationally.

For more information contact:

RichHeart Music, 419 Creekside Dr, Asheville, NC 28804
Phone: 828-658-9604 and 888-699-3682
Web site:

Mike Holstein

    Bassist/composer Mike Holstein has been playing music since early childhood. His first instruments were guitar, violin, piano and drums. It wasn't until he was attending Western Carolina University that he discovered the bass. His affinity for the instrument was immediately apparent. Within a few years he was performing regularly and became one of the most sought after bassists in the Southeast. From the beginning he was writing his own music. He joined the creative young jazz group, the Taken Back Quartet. This ensemble soon became a fixture on the thriving Asheville music scene. They played to a loyal almost cult-like following.

    In 2001, the members of the quartet along with Sharon LaMotte formed the Jazz Composers Forum, a non-profit organization dedicated to the presentation and documentation of original, instrumental jazz. The Forum became a mainstay of the local music fabric as Mike and the Taken Back Quartet accompanied guest composers in concert presentations. Mike's involvement grew with the forum whose activities now include workshops, presentations in grade schools and tours of venues throughout the region. He has presented his own music multiple times as leader and in the capacity of ?Composer-in-Residence?.

    Since 2004, Mike has been a member of the band Cotangent, a New York based group led by pianist/composer Bill Gerhardt. He has played on two recordings with this band, ?Stained Glass? and ?Thrive?. He also appears on Tony Moreno?s ?Trio Music? (Art of Life Records). He has performed with Joe Locke, Ingrid Jensen, Randy Brecker, Frank Kimbrough, Kendra Shank, Ron Horton, Marc Mommaas and Tim Horner among others. A truly gifted musician, Mike is finding himself more in demand than ever as he performs in jazz clubs in New York, throughout the Carolinas and continues to be a force with the Jazz Composers Forum.

Mike Holstein's MY SPACE URL is
Photos by Katie O'Shea, Tebbe Davis and Larry White
Sonny Thornton
Bio courtesy of Sharon LaMotte of Call That Jazz Booking Agency

One of the south's most creative, intuitive musicians, Sonny Thornton is a master drummer. Born in the District of Columbia, he was exposed to music at a very young age. Living in New York City while his mother furthered her education, Sonny heard the music at one of it's sources. After moving to New Orleans, he learned from the players and atmosphere in the Crescent City, widely acknowledged as the birthplace of jazz. While living there, he developed a friendship with Ed Blackwell, one of the most influential drummers of Twentieth Century. Ed's influence on Sonny's concept of music is undeniable. Thornton is extremely sensitive to the needs of the music and can be understated in his approach just as Blackwell was. Sonny's sense of freedom and his melodic style of soloing also sets him apart from most drummers performing today. Upon relocating to South Carolina, Sonny embarked on his long career of making music in the purist sense. He has performed with innumerable artists, both regionally and nationally known. Groups of most every format from organ trios to big bands to recent drum and keyboard duets with Bill Gerhardt have crossed Sonny's path. When you experience one of his performances, you will hear one of the world's truly gifted musicians, Sonny Thornton.

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photo by Jay Wilder
 RichHeart Music,, 888-699-3682, 828-658-9604