Ben Riley

Ben Riley 17/07/33-18/11/17 The centenary celebrations of Thelonious Monk have rightly focused attention on the enormous stature of Thelonious Monk, who created some of the most unique themes in jazz. Those who accompanied him share the spotlight to a certain extent. Recently, drummer Ben Riley, who was a member of the pianist-composer’s group for four years, made excellent contributions to the albums that were cut between 1960s and 1970s, which include gems like It’s Monk’s Time and Monk. Riley’s impressive talents are evident on all of the songs mentioned. He had taken in the modern jazz innovations of Max Roach and Kenny Clarke, while still bringing his own unique character to the table. His fluid, yet inventively nuanced, snare and drum patterns are a great complement to a classic like ‘Straight No Chaser. He also has a remarkable ability to drive arrangements without falling into bombast, which is something that Riley excels at on other performances. Riley was born in Savannah, Georgia. He moved to New York City with his family as a young man. After completing his musical apprenticeship in an Army band, Riley found work with stars like Stan Getz, Mary Lou Williams, and Sonny Rollins. Sideman credits included Alice Coltrane, Andrew Hill and Horace Tapscott. He was a member two supergroups in the 1970s and 1980s that helped to preserve the flame of acoustic jazz post-bop: the New York Jazz Quartet (Sphere) and the New York Jazz Quartet (New York Jazz Quartet). The latter, which took Monk’s middle title, Sphere, was a significant ensemble. It started out as a band that played a variety of Monk’s tunes. However, it evolved to produce original music on a series of strong albums like Flight Path (on Elektra Musician). Riley was joined by Charlie Rouse (tenor saxophonist), Kenny Barron (pianist), and Buster Williams (double-bassist). It was memorable for the band’s energetic and lively live performances, as well as the unity among the musicians. Riley will be remembered in jazz history as a great sideman. But his vital work with cutting-edge leaders and above all his ability make everyone around him sound good place him among the elite of jazz improvising artists. from

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