Frank has a special place in the NYJO pantheon because, as a young percussionist struggling with limited music educational facilities in the early 60s, he came to the attention of Bill Ashton, then working as a teacher in London. With Bill’s encouragement Frank was able to develop his musical talent, at the same time inspiring Bill to embark on his London Schools (later Youth) Jazz Orchestra project with Pat Evans, Mike Kershaw and others – which eventually became NYJO…
Although adept on most percussion instruments, Frank concentrated on the vibraphone whilst playing with NYJO and attending Trinity College of Music during his teenage years, whilst also developing his talents as a composer and arranger.
In the late 60s/early 70s Frank played and recorded with Neil Ardley, Dave Gelly, Graham Collier, Mike Gibbs, Stan Tracey, Harry Beckett, Norma Winstone and Gordon Beck. He also led his own jazz quartet, featuring the guitarist Chris Spedding, bassist Chris Laurence and drummer Bryan Spring, which recorded the album Our Point of View, released in July 1969. In 1971, in partnership with bassist Mike de Albuquerque, he released the album First Wind.
In the 1980s he played with Chris Laurence and John Taylor in the group Paragonne, after which he worked primarily as a studio musician. Between 1984/87 Frank wrote the soundtrack music, in the style of Bix Beiderbecke, for Yorkshire Television’s The Beiderbecke Trilogy. The music was performed by his band – the Frank Ricotti All Stars – and featured Kenny Baker on cornet. A soundtrack album was released in 1988 which, 5 years later, peaked at No. 73 in the UK Albums Chart. Frank and the All Stars made a cameo appearance in the final series, playing in a jazz club.
Over the years Frank has recorded with many great artists such as Freddie Mercury, the Pet Shop Boys, Swing Out Sister, Belle and Sebastian, Clannad, Barclay James Harvest, Meat Loaf, Elkie Brooks, Rick Wakeman, Tina Turner, Aztec Camera and Mark Knopfler, for whom he played vibes on the album Kill to Get Crimson.
More recently Frank has been involved in the soundtracks for The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Skyfall (2012) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).