British pianist Howard Riley's previous album on No Business, the monumental The Complete Short Stories: 1998-2010 (2011), was a revelation to many, collecting together 6 CDs of stunning aphoristic improvisations. However on Live With Repertoire, as the title suggests, the pianist concentrates primarily on the songbook, particularly Monk, one of his touchstones along with Ellington. In the liners Riley explains that his working method sees him treat a gig as either with or without repertoire, depending on audience, ambience and how he feels. Something was clearly in the air in Leicester in November 2011 as the pianist generates an enthralling ...read more
Pianist Howard Riley turned 70 in February and belatedly celebrates the event with the release of a new CD, Live with Repertoire (NoBusiness Records). It's a really strong live, solo set of standards and a few original tunes recorded last year in Leicester and one that emphasises one particular aspect of his playing. Riley remains one of the most gifted interpreters of the jazz repertoire in Britain or beyond. The last few years have not been easy for Riley. It was on a gig at the Royal Festival Hall in a trio with Barre Phillips and drummer Steve ...read more
Howard RileyThe Complete Short Stories 1998-2010No Business Records2011 Veteran British pianist Howard Riley has found a champion from an unexpected source in the adventurous Lithuanian label, No Business. After issuing a double CD of the pianist's one man concert in the capital, Live In Vilnius (2010), it has gone further with a box set collecting a brace of previously released solo double disc sets along with a another two discs of previously unreleased material. Riley revels in the exposed format: he already has at least 11 solo sets to his name, ...read more
Howard Riley gave his performance in Vilnius, Lithuania in September, 2009. It was his first visit to the country in a five-decade career, and one of just a few eastern Europe destinations made at the time, by the British free jazz pianist. The concert was recorded and released in 2010 as the double-disc set, Solo in Vilnius, by No Business Records. All About Jazz: Describe your musical background. Howard Riley: I was born in 1943 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. But for the first 6 years I lived down in Harrow, which is a place very near ...read more
No stranger to being alone in the spotlight, Solo In Vilnius is at least the 11th such entry in English pianist Howard Riley's extensive discography. Musically active for more than 40 years, Riley, now in his 60s, enjoys an impressive résumé which name checks the cream of British improvisers, including London Jazz Composers Orchestra, Keith Tippett and Tony Oxley.
Recorded live in St. Catherine's Church in Vilnius, Lithuania, the 13 cuts spread across the two discs' 96 minutes, comprising ten seemingly improvised originals, one standard and two from the Thelonious Monk canon. From the cover shot of a darkened cathedral-like ...read more
Howard Riley is one of those musicians that we (those of us in the UK, that is) too easily take for granted. If he were flying in from some far-flung corner of the globe to perform, we'd be loudly singing his praises; as it is, we know he's great, but we don't shout about it often enough. This release provides a chance to remedy that a little.
Two is One is a near-flawless gem. It finds Riley duetting with himself for the first time in over a quarter of a century. In the studio, Riley improvised nine shortish pieces--none over ...read more
Revered by a few but unknown to most, Howard Riley has been an uncompromising free music agitator since the late '60s, first in small group settings, later with bigger outfits, like the London Jazz Composers Orchestra, and solo performance. His music ebbs and flows between material with no obvious antecedents and recalibrated shades of early bop. He's frequently bracketed alongside Cecil Taylor, but while he can indeed generate a lot of notes, he plays them pianistically rather than percussively. A better reference point is the dissonant lyricism of Thelonious Monk. Such resonances are, however, the relatively minor tributaries of a ...read more
This new quartet is a departure from Quatuor Accorde, the other quartet that Tony Wren currently convenes. Whereas that is an all-strings affair, this one has the line-up of a conventional jazz quartet--sax, piano, bass and drums. But both play completely improvised music. And it is only the line-up here that is conventional. For example, when this quartet played a recent concert in St Cyprian's Church, to promote this album, at one point Mark Sanders memorably strolled around playing on the pews and furniture--great showmanship and playing combined!Although this is a new quartet--the album date was only their ...read more
Emanem has been busy mining historical recordings for gems, and as a consequence they have brought some valuable material to light. Overground, recorded in 1974-75, represents a step forward in the evolution of the same Howard Riley Trio that appeared in 1971 on Flight (Future Music) and more recently from 1973 on Synopsis (Emanem). Riley, unlike many free piano players, has a remarkable ability to eschew any sort of reflex or subconscious patterning: the listener gathers the sense that he chooses each note for each moment because it belongs in that particular context. He uses repetition as a conscious act ...read more
Synopsis represents material originally issued on the “Incus” LP along with one additional and previously unreleased track, performed by the venerable trio of pianist Howard Riley, bassist Barry Guy and percussionist Tony Oxley who also utilizes live electronics on this outing. Essentially, this recording resides within the classic and oft pioneering British free-jazz style of improvisation, and as some of us might surmise, the band delivers the goods in artful and curiously interesting fashion.
Throughout these five pieces, the “Howard Riley Trio” embarks on a journey that features minimalist themes and microtonal passages along with subtle counterattacks amid the often-eerie ...read more
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