John Aloysius REILLY
January 1, 1932 – May 18, 2018
Jack Reilly’s life as a pianist and composer spanned 70 years. It began in 1946 playing a New Year’s Eve gig with a drummer, and blossomed into a major career. Mr. Reilly’s jazz trio performed in Europe, Wales, England, Canada, Alaska and all major cities across the United States.
He frequently performed as a soloist, playing his own compositions with symphony orchestras, choirs, chamber ensembles, woodwind quintets, and string orchestras. He served as musical director for David Frost’s U.S. tour of “The Week That Was”, and spent two years as an arranger/conductor/pianist for pop singer Gloria Loring. He conducted, performed, and composed original music for an off-Broadway production of Samuel Beckett’s “Eh Joe”.
Jack recorded 16 CDs as a leader, and had been an important ingredient at festivals, on recordings, and in groups, led by Sheila Jordan, John Laporta, Ben Webster, Ray Starling’s New York Neophonic Orchestra, and George Russell’s New York Band. He toured all the European festivals with Mr. Russell, ending with a week-long gig at the Village Vanguard.
He had chaired the Jazz Studies Department at the New England Conservatory of Music, the New School for Social Research, and in the Mannes College of Music.
He was the author of the critically acclaimed “The Harmony of Bill Evans”, Volumes 1 and 2, as well as several books of jazz piano arrangements published by Hal Leonard. “The Harmony of Dave Brubeck” was published in 2013.
His 4-volume Species Blues teaches jazz improvisation, including “The Blue Form (Modal)”, “The Song Form (Tonal)”, and “The Free Form (Atonal)”, comprising a complete course for jazz pianists, published by Unichrom.
Jack’s compositions include the La-No-Tib Suite for piano with improvisation (1957); Jazz Requiem (1967); Oratorio – the Light of the Soul (1974); Chuang-Tzu-Theme and 8 Variations for Orchestra (1993); Concertina for Jazz Piano and Strings, Lullabies for Orchestra, Fantasy for Piano, and Wind Quintet (1978); Piano Sonata in D Minor and Concerto for Harmonica and Strings (1957); Mass of Involvement (1969); Green Spring Suite (2002); Songs Without Words for Piano (2003); as well as over 300 more pieces for piano. In 2001, his piano concerto Orbitals was premiered with the composer as soloist with the Keweenaw Symphony.
In November 2012, his A Jazz Requiem was given its German premiere in Mainz with conductor Daniel Rumpf, a 40-voice choir, and a jazz quintet with the composer at the piano.
In October 2013, Jack was in residence at Brigham Young University as a lecturer and performed “The Music of Bill Evans and Jack Reilly” with his trio.
Jack Reilly was the husband of Carol Lian Reilly; brother of Dolores Harden and Betty Coughlin of Staten Island, NY; father of Cheryl Reilly, Nevada, and Kim Karr, Kansas. He was grandfather of Michael, Jenny, and Elizabeth Karr, Kansas.