Unfortunately I just heard that the great Ben Riley passed away this weekend at the age of 84. Not only was his work with Thelonious Monk very influential on me but hearing him play live once also really changed my life and my overall perspective of Jazz drumming...
Here's a few nice articles about Ben Riley and his legacy:
- Ted Panken's "Today Is The Question"
- Ethan Iverson's "Do The Math"
- A transcription and analysis from Todd Bishop's Cruiseship Drummer:
- Modern Drummer
And from a 2005 Modern Drummer interview (via Mark Griffiths), this quote pretty much sums it all up:
“I came up in an era of accompaniment. I enjoy that more than soloing, because each person I’ve worked with has had different attitudes, songs, and styles of playing. I never come on a job thinking: "I’m going to play this or play that." I wait to see what they’re going to do and then fit into that picture.”
My experience hearing Ben Riley play was, of course, consistent with his description. However, as you can see below, he was a great soloist too!