About Richard James Debonis
Since his first professional gig at the age of 11, Richard James Debonis (a.k.a. “RVZ”) has become a world class drummer, composer, arranger and vocalist. Whether its rock, jazz, funk, metal, or electronica, Richi has a meticulous understanding and ability to capture the deepest essence of all these styles of music while still being an innovator. He studied at the Julliard School, Mannes College of Music, and The City College Of New York under the tutelage of Ron Carter, Victor Lewis, Walter Rosenberger and Norman Grossman. He has played with great musicians of all styles and eras: Jaco Pastorious, Barry Harris, Bill Watrous, Frank Morgan, Chris Calloway, Herbie Mann, Ace Frehley and Joe Bouchard to name a few. In His 25 year career his contemporaries and colleagues include Ben Monder, Joel Frahm, Philip Harper, Chris Potter, Greg Gisbert, Adam Small, Ian Hendrickson-Smith, Al Street, Adam Kolker, Freddie Bryant amongst many others. In 2000, Richi moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he toured with the late great alto saxophonist Frank Morgan and the late singer Chris Calloway (Cab Calloway’s daughter).
In 2003 Richi moved back to NYC where he searched for a deeper, purer more innovative approach to making music. This soul searching led to channeling Led Zeppelin’s music from rock to jazz. “My two favorite things in music are Led Zeppelin and great Jazz, and i made them have a baby!” The NOWtet Plays Zep is a Milestone in bringing two very different styles together powerfully and organically.
After finishing The NOWtet plays Zep! Richi divided his time between NYC and Denver, Colorado, where he performed throughout Colorado with some of the finest musicians in Denver — among them Jeff Jenkins, John Gunther and Greg Gisbert. In 2012 he made New York City his primary home again, and recorded over 50 songs with the legendary Donny Stew and the Gunslingers and Gasparilla and the Buccaneer band .
In 2014 Richi began playing regularly at the 78 Below Club with the NOWtet featuring Henry Butler, the great pianist from New Orleans. Henry also asked Richi to play in his trio where they performed at jazz festivals and clubs all over the east coast. Richi also did a stellar set at the Red Hook Jazz Festival, The review of the show said “Debonis is a strong leader, apt composer, fierce and able drummer and sensational showman. ”
In 2015 Richi started a steady string of gigs from August through December at new venue the Why Not Jazz Room. 2016 finds Richi finishing up mastering work on The NOWtet plays Zep part II and about to record a new record of mostly original compositions inspired by his experiences in the southwest – New Mexico specifically as well as Denver and Boulder, Colorado. He is also arranging the music of Luis Alberto Spinetta, the Argentinian composer, guitarist, singer and poet who was the father of Argentine rock and jazz fusion. Richi is very excited about presenting this new powerful music.
In 2017, Richi has been recording with a power trio — SUNDOG — with guitarist-singer- composer Mark Mitchell and bassist Drew Buschman. In June he reprised his past powerful performances at the Red Hook Jazz Festival in June, with a stellar band including Abraham Burton, Josh Evans, Zaccai Curtis, and Carlo DeRosa. Future plans include recording and playing in Toronto in August and traveling to Rome in September to explore concert opportunities for his The NOWtet Pays Zep! project. Finally, Richi has just written a composition, The Eternal Gift, dedicated to his 20-month-old son Haden James Debonis and inspired by his namesake, the legendary bassist Charlie Haden.
Richard James Debonis aka RVZ plays Moby Dick: