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Jack Reilly, RIP


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Jack Reilly
News has arrived that the pianist Jack Reilly died of a massive stroke on Friday at his home in New Jersey. Mr. Reilly, 86, was an accomplished classical and jazz pianist who returned to his native New York in 1954 following Navy service and pursued graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music. His early experience in jazz was with John LaPorta, Sheila Jordan, Ben Webster and George Russell, among other prominent figures in the bebop and post-bop eras.

From the biography on Mr. Reilly’s website:

He was Professor and Head of the Jazz Studies Departments at the New England Conservatory of Music Boston, The New School, for Social Research, and The Mannes College of Music, where he wrote the curriculum for full Degree in Jazz Music. He is the author of the critically acclaimed The Harmony of Bill Evans, Volumes 1 and 2, The Harmony of Dave Brubeck and several books of jazz piano arrangements.

Pianists who studied with Reilly often gave him credit for inspiring them and accelerating their development. The quote in the June, 2008, Rifftides post below is typical of the regard in which his students held him.

Originally posted on June 20, 2008

Recently, I came across this quote:

“Jack Reilly’s music is singular, almost private, and yet it reaches beyond his personal vision. This is music that speaks to the collective spirit of all mankind."—Bill Charlap

The quote is by a student of Reilly who is one of his most dedicated fans and has himself gone on to considerable renown. It led to a search that turned up video of Reilly in a performance that melds Chopin and Strayhorn. His subtle key changes are central to the fun and fascination.

For links to Jack Reilly’s publications and albums, see this page of his website.

Jack was a frequent commenter on Rifftides. We will miss him and his contributions.

Funeral or memorial services for Mr. Reilly have not been announced.

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