Patrice Rushen

Patrice Rushen (born Sept. 30, 1954) is an American musician and composer who began her career as a jazz keyboardist in the mid-1970s, playing on albums by Alphonso Johnson, Azar Lawrence, Donald Byrd, Eddie Henderson, Harvey Mason, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Luis Gasca.

She was born Patrice Louise Rushen on September 30, 1954, in Los Angeles. At age three, she started practicing piano and by age six she was giving classical recitals. As a senior at Locke High School, she marched in the Rose Bowl Parade with the Honor Band.

In 1972, Rushen won the competition at the Monterey Jazz Festival, where she was befriended by producer Quincy Jones. Taking his advise, she enrolled at the University of Southern California to study music education and piano performance. That same year, she earned her first recorded credit on an eponymous album by the free-jazz collective Msingi Workshop.

As she worked on her degree, Rushen signed to the jazz label Prestige. In 1974, she released her debut album, Prelusion, produced by Reggie Andrews and engineered by one Eddie Harris (not to be confused with the namesake saxophonist). The album features five self-arranged originals: “Shortie’s Portion,” “Haw-Right Now,” “Puttered Bopcorn,” and two lengthy numbers: “Traverse” and “7/73.” Her backing band on this album includes drummer Leon Ndugu Chancler, saxophonist Joe Henderson, and multi-reedist Hadley Caliman.


  • Prelusion (1974)
  • Before the Dawn (1975)
  • Shout It Out (1977)
  • Patrice (1978)
  • Pizzazz (1979)
  • Posh (1980)
  • Straight From the Heart (1982)
  • Now (1984)
  • Watch Out! (1987)
  • Anything but Ordinary (1994)
  • Signature (1997)
  • Jazz Straight Up (2003 • Ndugu Chancler, Stanley Clarke & Patrice Rushen)


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