Ben Riley

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Ben Riley
Ben Riley.jpg
Riley in New York City, 1977
Background information
Birth nameBenjamin Alexander Riley Jr.
Born(1933-07-17)July 17, 1933
Savannah, Georgia, U.S.
DiedNovember 18, 2017(2017-11-18) (aged 84)
West Islip, New York, U.S.
Associated actsThelonious Monk, Kenny Barron, Alice Coltrane,

Benjamin Alexander Riley Jr. (July 17, 1933 – November 18, 2017) was an American jazz drummer known for his work with Thelonious Monk, as well as Alice Coltrane, Stan Getz, Woody Herman, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Ahmad Jamal, Kenny Barron, and as member of the group Sphere. During the 1970s he was a member of the New York Jazz Quartet.


Benjamin Alexander Riley Jr. was born in Savannah, Georgia, and at the age of four moved with his family to New York City.[1] In high school he played in the school band, and after graduation he joined the army, where he was a paratrooper, and also played with the army band.[citation needed]

Upon leaving the army in 1954 he moved to New York, and in 1956 started playing jazz professionally. He played with such musicians as Randy Weston, Mary Lou Williams, Sonny Rollins, Woody Herman, Stan Getz, Billy Taylor, and Johnny Griffin. What made his name, however, were the four years spent playing, touring, and recording with the pianist Thelonious Monk.[citation needed] He was also in a trio around 1960 with Al Schackman on guitar and Ron Carter on bass that toured with Nina Simone.


Riley died in West Islip, New York on November 18, 2017, aged 84.[2]


As leader[edit]

  • 1996: Weaver of Dreams (Joken) [3]
  • 2006: Memories of T (Concord) [3]
  • 2012: Grown Folks Music (Sunnyside) [3]

As sideman[edit]

Ben Riley at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Half Moon Bay CA March 20, 1988. Trio with Kenny Barron, piano; Rufus Reid, bass

With Noah Baerman

With Chet Baker

With Bill Barron

With Kenny Barron

With Gary Bartz

With Ted Brown

With Ray Bryant

With Kenny Burrell

With Ron Carter

With Alice Coltrane

With Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis

With Ricky Ford

With Red Garland

With Benny Golson

With Bennie Green

With Johnny Griffin

With Michael Franks

With Andrew Hill

With Sam Jones

With Junior Mance

With Ken McIntyre

With Jay McShann

With Thelonious Monk

With Freddie Redd

With Sonny Rollins

With Jack Sheldon

With Sphere

With Jeremy Steig

With Horace Tapscott

With Roseanna Vitro

With Larry Willis


  1. ^ "Ben Riley Biography". Drummerworld. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  2. ^ West, Michael J. (November 18, 2017). "Ben Riley, a Jazz Drummer Who Made Accompaniment His Art, Has Died at 84". WBGO.
  3. ^ a b c "Ben Riley Discography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  4. ^ "Michael Franks - Tiger in the Rain CD Album". Retrieved November 19, 2017.

External links[edit]