A fiery, bop-oriented saxophonist with a kinetic technique and bright tone, Dick Oatts has been an in-demand session player, sideman, and bandleader since emerging in New York in the 1970s. Born in 1953 in Des Moines, Iowa, Oatts grew up in a musical family the son of noted jazz saxophonist and educator Jack Oatts. A gifted saxophonist from a young age, Oatts played throughout high school, and honed his skills studying at Iowa's Drake University. After graduating, he spent several years working in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area before relocating to New York City in 1972. Once there, he quickly found work as a member of the legendary Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, appearing on albums like 1978's It Only Happens Every Time with Monica Zetterlund, 1979's Naturally, and 1981's Mellifuous, among others.