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Ben Riley's Monk Legacy

By Published: November 7, 2006

Ben RileyAAJ: Do the guys in the band ask you to sit around and tell old Monk stories all the time?

BR: Well, actually no, because when we have rehearsals, they rehearse without me and then I come in after they've had a day or two rehearsing, then I'll come in and play my part with them and then they can hear it different—hear it the way they're phrasing and the way they're doing things and that makes it even easier for them.

AAJ: Do you feel like you're back in Monk's band playing? Are you using the same approach as when you were in his band?

BR: Well I feel now that when hearing the songs I have another understanding of it because I played it before, so now the way I listen to it, now sometimes I hear some different things. With Thelonious' music, every time you play it, something else happens all the time for me, because that's how I learned how to play with him. He left it open for me to figure out what to put in and what not to put in. So as old man [drummer Philly] Jo Jones said, "What you've got to do is learn how what not to play. [laughs] And so I'm at that stage now in my life now learning what not to play. Don't try to fill up everything.

Selected Discography

Ben Riley's Monk Legacy Septet, Memories of T (Concord, 2006)
Kenny Barron Trio, Live at Bradley's II: The Perfect Set (Sunnyside, 2005)
Don Sickler, Reflections (High Note, 2002)
Sheila Jordan, From the Heart (32 Jazz, 2000)
Mark Murphy, Jazz Standards (32 Jazz, 1998)
Ben Riley, Weaver of Dreams (Joken, 1996)
Harold Ashby Quartet, What Am I Here For? (Criss Cross, 1990)
Andrew Hill, Eternal Spirit (Blue Note, 1989)
Sphere, Bird Songs (Verve, 1988)
Sphere, Four in One (Elektra, 1982)
Buster Williams, Dreams Come True (Buddah, 1978)
Ron Carter, Peg Leg (Milestone, 1977)
Andrew Hill, Lift Every Voice (Blue Note, 1969)
Thelonious Monk, Monk's Blues (Columbia, 1968)
Thelonious Monk, Straight, No Chaser (Columbia, 1966)
Thelonious Monk, It's Monk's Time (Columbia, 1964)
Sonny Rollins, What's New? (RCA, 1962)
Sonny Rollins, The Bridge (RCA, 1962)
Eddie "Lockjaw Davis, Afro-Jaws (Riverside, 1961)
Johnny Griffin, Tough Tenors (Jazzland, 1961)

Photo Credits
Top Photo: Jos L. Knaepen
Bottom Photo: Jose Manuel Horna

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