Howard Riley | 10.11.12 | No Business Records

John Howard Riley (born 16 February 1943) is an English jazz pianist and composer. Riley was born in Huddersfield. He began learning the piano at the age of six, and began playing jazz as early as the age of 13. He studied at the University of Wales (1961–66), Indiana University in America under Dave Baker (1966–67), and then at York University (1967–70). Alongside his studies he played jazz professionally, with Evan Parker (1966) and then with his own trio (1967–76), with Barry Guy on bass and Alan Jackson, Jon Hiseman, and Tony Oxley for periods on drums. Additionally he worked with John McLaughlin (1968), the London Jazz Composers Orchestra (1970-1980s), and with Oxley’s ensemble (1972–81). He and Guy worked in a trio with Phil Wachsmann from 1976 well into the 1980s, and played solo piano throughout North America and Europe. From 1978 to 1981 he played in a quartet with Guy, Trevor Watts, and John Stevens; in the early 1980s he did duo work with Keith Tippett, with Jaki Byard, and with Elton Dean. From 1985 he worked in a trio setting with Jeff Clyne and Tony Levin. Riley has taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and currently teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he has taught continuously since the 1970s. Continue reading

Howard Riley | Live With Repertoire | No Business Records

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 set from well-used materials, all captured in sparkling sound. — John Sharpe Continue reading

Howard Riley | The Complete Short Stories 1998-2010 | 6CD Box Set | No Business Records

The beauty of a short story of course, is that it can be taken in at a sitting, indeed is so structured and formulated that it represents a single, continuous verbal performance, unlike the episodic or architectural structure of a long novel. It is, to that extent, a form that lends itself rather well to musical analogies, though not at first glance to improvised music, which tends to subordinate artful structure to moment-by-moment invention. And yet the greatest short stories can often seem improvised: brief, epiphanic flashes where the next step and the eventual outcome remain in doubt to the very end. There’s something of the humane embrace of Chekhov, Hemingway’s muscle, reticence and resistance to mere abstraction, but perhaps it’s Henry James, that master of indefinable atmospheres and of the tense dialogue between Old World and New World cultures. This is the realm Howard Riley occupies with magisterial confidence, jazz given not just a catch-all cisAtlantic accent but with Howard’s distinctive burr, classical language not simply swung but put through a harmonic and rhythmic gate that transforms it utterly. How to hear him? Italo Calvino, another master of the short form, put it perfectly: ‘It is not the voice that commands the story; it is the ear.’ — Brian Morton Continue reading