On Saturday drumming great Ben Riley passed away at 84. I will admit that I don’t know Riley’s discography as well as I would like. Riley didn’t record much as a leader, but was a consummate sideman, known for productive stints with pianists Thelonious Monk, Kenny Barron and, fittingly, the ensemble Sphere, a tribute to Monk featuring Barron on piano. Today I’ve been listening to some of his work with Monk. Riley was a fabulous compliment to Monk: the groove in the high hat and ride is rock solid while the accents on the snare are totally unpredictable, in constant motion and dialogue with Monk’s piano. I’m particularly taken with his work on the track “Japanese Folk Song” from the album Straight No Chaser. At nearly 17 minutes, it might be the longest monk track on record, but Monk and Riley are dynamic together.
Two new reviews this week. Jason Moran surprised with a sudden, art inspired realese With Graham Haynes and Jamire Williams. Review.
Also, short review of Butcher Brown’s recent live release. Review.