Born on November 12, 1955, Richard Hart began pursuing his destiny of becoming a contemporary fusion guitarist while growing up in the balmy ambiance of Southern California. Raised by his mother and grandmother, Hart’s upbringing was cultivated by their tutelage and encouragement which nourished his imagination and channeled his creative energies into making music. His mother was a soprano singer in the church choir and played the piano while his grandmother was a retired school teacher. They mentored his musical foundation and allowed him the freedom to learn from external influences which musically included everything from Nat King Cole to Led Zeppelin.
Hart picked up the guitar at the age of 16. He never took music lessons while growing up, but learned to play music by ear and using chord charts. He developed a method of playing which he calls "head arrangements" at the age of 20 while attending Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma. This method of songwriting allows him to feel the music before playing it by visualizing the chord patterns in his mind and then organizing layers of harmonies which give his songs a full body. He joined the US Air Force after college and in 1979, saxophonist Tom Scott invited Hart to open for his tour with the LA Express playing shows throughout Utah. Hart developed a rapport with audiences and the musicians on stage with him. Since that time, Hart has been active as a fusion guitarist working with aspects of blues-rock, hard-bop, bossa nova, and cool jazz.
In the early ‘80s, he formed his own band Swan’s Down with bassist Mike Little, vocalist Lawrence Baldwin, and Blood, Sweat, and Tears keyboardist Larry Pierce. They toured for their album which included a special event at the Susan Powell Fine Arts Center in Elk City, Oklahoma. Swan’s Down became Hart’s calling card which gave him cachet as a fusion artist. Soon after wards, he was in demand as a session musician and as an opening act for jazz music’s elite including Ron Eschete from 1994 to 1995, the McCoy Tyner Trio in 1994, Mel Torme in 1995, Tony Molina in 2001, Russell Malone in 2004, and Kirk Whalum in 2005. Hart has appeared on two albums, Pastclusion in 1991 on Schepora IRL Records and Tony Molina & Friends in 2001 also on Schepora IRL Records, before releasing his album Fearless Shores with his quartet in 2007 on Innvervision Records. Joining Hart on his current release are saxophonist Ron Munn, bassist Dorothy Soto, and percussionist/drummer Mark Winkel.
In addition to being a fusion artist, Hart has been a mentor as well, similarly to his grandmother. He is an active faculty member of the Tuacahn Center for the Arts in Utah and in Oklahoma. He also wrote a pilot series called "History Of Jazz Musicians From Oklahoma" for the Oklahoma Community Television Network and held the position of Music Director for a two and half hour televised special on jazz music’s greats featuring compositions by Chet Baker, Barnel Kessel, and Oscar Pettiford. But it is safe to say that playing jazz is what gives his heart the most content.
He describes in a press release that the making of Fearless Shores was a chance for him to show has jazz music has influenced him and affected his sense of harmonious chord progressions. It was his chance to contribute to its fabric as he speaks metaphorically, "It was like standing on the seashore and watching the giant waves come rushing in and not being afraid to test the waters. Now was the time for me to resist the urge to run from the waves and stand there to be counted as a ripple in the sea of jazz."
Jazzreview.com’s writer Susan Lozinak comments about the Richard Hart Quartet’s debut album that "Fearless Shores is fearless in its mission to deliver great jazz and it’s destined to make waves in the jazz world for a long time."