Born in Winchester Ontario, Canada, Richard Irwin was constantly surrounded by music. His father was a multi-instrumentalist and teacher, while his mother, a teacher as well, sang in church with the family. Children’s and church choirs were the beginnings of his musical life, and drums and percussion came shortly after. At 11 years old, after moving to Glengarry County, Ontario, a school friend invited him over to check out his new kit, and his passion for the instrument began. Noticing that a serious interest had developed, he was sent to learn the fundamentals. Weekly lessons at the Glengarry School of Pipes and Drums taught him every rudiment on the snare, as well as a chance to compete in Scottish events all over North America and Europe at a very early age.
The drum set soon replaced snare competitions, and the Pipe Band was substituted with concert bands, small orchestras, pit bands, and various working bar bands. After high school he went on to study jazz performance at McGill University. Here he performed with dozens of combos, ensembles, and the school’s Big Bands, where he formed a long lasting relationship with director and trumpeter Ron Dilauro of the Vic Vogel Big Band. Vic needed a drummer, and Ron suggested Rich take over the chair. 15 years later, he continues to play in the band, and has been working in Montreal ever since.
Currently residing in Montreal, Richard plays frequently with:
Mark Kingswood, Elizabeth Shepherd, Christine Jensen, Julie Lamontagne, Vic Vogel, Dawn Tyler Watson, the Directors, Marianne Trudel, Effendi Jazz Lab, Al McLean, Orchestre National de Jazz, Jessica Vigneault, Joel Miller, Remi Bolduc, Nicole Martin, the Chateauguay Tenors, Jeff Johnston, Florence K, Jean-Nicolas Trottier, Taurey Butler, Jean Pierre Zanella, Alex Cote, Hadrian’s Wall, Matt Herskowitz, Bruno Pelletier, and has toured the world with jazz/pop singer, Nikki Yanofsky.
He has performed in international venues such as the Blue Note, Dizzy’s Club, Catalina’s, Ronnie Scott’s, Birdland, Air Canada Centre, Bell Centre, Scotiabank Place, L'Olympia, Yardbird Suite, as well as at major festivals such as the Montreal Drum Fest, Montreal Jazz Fest, NAMM Show, North Sea Jazz Fest, San Francisco Jazz, Red Sea Jazz Fest, and many others. He has worked with world-renowned artists such as:
Dave Liebman, Aaron Parks, Haile Loren, Dave Young, Celine Dion, Enrico Pierranunzi, Dave Binney, Houston Person, Freddie Hubbard, Yotam Silberstein, Donny McCaslin, Ingrid Jensen, Randy Bachman, Jane Bunnet, Denzal Sinclaire, Gary Smulyan, Yannick Rieux, Kevin Dean, Chucho Valdez, and has shared the stage with dozens of others.
Rich's new DRUM CLASS studio, along with his 20 years of teaching experience, provides the perfect environment for drumming education at any level. Both private and Skype lessons are available at a very competitive rate to accommodate every student.
Richard hits Sonor drums, Zildjian cymbals, and Evans Drumheads with Pro-Mark sticks. He packs all of his gear in Protection Racket cases.