Herlin Riley


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Drummer Herlin Riley is from New Orleans, and is a major keeper of the flame when it comes to that city’s jazz tradition. He played with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis‘s band and with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for close to 20 years, and was with pianist Ahmad Jamal before and after that – in fact, he’s currently a member of Jamal’s group. He’s recently released his fourth album as a leader, Perpetual Optimism, which features a band of young musicians including up-and-coming trumpet player Bruce Harris.

In this interview, we talk about a lot of different subjects, including everything I mentioned above, as well as his early career in New Orleans, where he sees the city’s jazz tradition going in the future, and even some discussion of the difference between New Orleans and New York jazz rhythms. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Music heard in this episode:

Herlin Riley, “Twelve’s It” (Perpetual Optimism)

Herlin Riley, “Connection to Congo Square” (New Direction)