Jack Reilly: Making the Most of the Gift of Life
JR: Practice nine hours a day. Work a night gig that is not music so you can continue your studies [during the day]. And it has to be a calling; something that your life will have no meaning if you don't do it.
AAJ: Can a serious musician make a living as a composer and/or a performer?
JR: Yes. I read [the book on] Paul Hindemith called The Man Behind the Music (Taplinger, 1978), [about being a] composer/performer/teacher, and he says you should do all three things. I have done that and I fell fulfilled and I have been able to make a living in each category. I think it's harder if I said I wanted to compose all my life.
[My greatest challenge would be] composing an opera. It has a story, it has singing and it has instrumental forces that are as great, if not greater, than anything together. A symphony orchestra, it has acting; it is a challenge in every form of writing.
AAJ: Who do you think was the most innovative vocalist you have heard in your life?
JR: Vocalists I never warmed up to. Sheila Jordan is my favorite jazz vocalist. Classically, probably José Carreras, and Pavarotti had a lot [of] enormous communication powers.
AAJ: What can we next expect from the prolific Jack Reilly?
JR: The biggest work, opera is in my next life, but the biggest work I have in mind is to combine choral forces, symphonic forces with a jazz quartet, two pianos and a narrator. This is a large group at my disposal, based on the work of a very controversial, twentieth century philosopher, the German, Martin Heidegger. To me he has changed the whole philosophical thinking of the twentieth century; him mainly, also people like Ludwig Wittgenstein. He is more like the Lennie Tristano of philosophy. Heidegger is the Verdi. He has a book called Being and Time (1927). Those will be the two main singers. One will be a soprano and the other will be a tenor. The book is like five hundred pages and no one knows what he is saying yet. I bought another book almost twice as thick trying to explain what he is saying and the genesis of it. He has a lot of books out and they are easier to read than this, so there is something in there and once I get it I'll write the music. It will be a two hour work.
AAJ: Do you have a working trio?
JR: In America, no. In England and Wales I work with [drummer] Steven Keough and [bassist] Dave Green. I will be going back to do a composition seminar in Wales for Steve's organization called Global Music Foundation in July.
AAJ: What albums will be coming out next?
JR: Innocence - Green Spring Suite is just out, and then in November, The Jack Reilly Trio Live at Dean Clough. We are also waiting for Jimmy Giuffre's estate to release a recording of a concert I did with him at The New England Conservatory in 1982, when I was chairman. I have been wanting to put that out for years.
Jack Reilly Trio, Live at Dean Clough Centre (Unichrom, 2007)
Jack Reilly, Innocence - Green Spring Suite (Unichrom, 2007)
Jack Reilly, Pure Passion: Solo Piano Improvisations (Unichrom, 2002)
Jack Reilly, Tzu-Jan The Sound of the Tarot, Volume 1 (Unichrom, 2001)
Jack Reilly, Tzu-Jan The Sound of the Tarot, Volume 2 (Unichrom, 2001)
Jack Reilly, Masks (Unichrom, 1998)
Jack Reilly, Here's What I Like (Unichrom, 1994)
Jack Reilly Trio, November (Unichrom, 1981)
Jack Reilly, Live in Poland (Unichrom, 1978)
Jack Reilly, Tributes (Unichrom, 1976)
Jack Reilly Trio, Blue Sean Green (Unichrom, 1974)