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Jack Reilly

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Biography of Jack Reilly

"Music is a great gift for everyone; it uplifts our spirits and brings joy to our lives."...

Pianist Jack Reilly has the unenviable position of being an artist well respected and admired by his peers for his composing and performing faculties, but never quite achieving that level of public acclaim his prodigious talents deserve. There was no one defining moment when the pianist decided jazz was to be his livelihood. It grew on him as he hung out at community jazz joints on Staten Island listening to the local piano players. He was pushed over the edge when he heard the modernism of the
Lennie Tristano Quintet and made his musical debut with John LaPorta in 1958 at the Newport Jazz Festival. Over the years, he has worked with Ben Webster and with the George Russell Big Band.

Reilly has an impressive musical education resume. In addition to private studies with Tristano, Reilly also studied with the shadowy but influential Hall Overton and composer of contemporary music Ludmila Ulehia. It is this background that compelled Reilly’s attention to the instrument. With his exceptional technical skills and musical sensitivity, he could have stuck to the tried-and-true form of standard jazz and pop repertoire. Rather, he took the high-risk but rewarding road of playing his own compositions which are vignettes of modern jazz. His highly engaging compositions can be heard to best advantage on The Brinksman, with a stunning Masks, and two masterful albums Tzu-Jan: The Sound of the Tarot, Vol. 1 and a second volume covering the same theme. These extraordinary recordings provide an
impressionist avocation of the exotic Thoth Tarot Cards.

Even when working in the standard material idiom, there is a sense that the songs are being turned out in an entirely new set of clothes. Reilly’s creative horizons extend beyond shorter works to larger ones such as a Jazz Requiem, Jazz Oratorio, and Theme and Variations for Orchestra as well as to classical forms. The world premier of Orbitals, Piano Concerto took place in 2001 in Michigan. His more than 300 shorter pieces include blues, children’s lullabies, jazz tunes and music for the theater, including music for a play by Samuel Beckett. Given his history, his accomplishments, and his interests, Jack Reilly has made him a melodious Renaissance man. ( -- Dave Nathan, All Music Guide.)

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