Riley, Ben(jamin Alexander Jr.)
- Russ Musto
(b Savannah, GA, July 17, 1933). American jazz drummer. Riley moved to New York at age four and as a teenager began music studies with Cecil Scott, in whose band he also played. After returning to Harlem following his service as a member of the 187th Airborne band (1951–2) he joined the second wave of New York bebop players, working regularly with Randy Weston and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, first at Minton’s and then from 1960 as a member of his two-tenor quintet with Johnny Griffin. Subsequently he became a busy sideman, performing with Sonny Rollins (appearing on the classic The Bridge), among others. He became a favorite of piano players including Ahmad Jamal, Billy Taylor, and Ray Bryant, for his tasteful, sympathetic swing. After three weeks opening for Thelonious Monk at the Five Spot, playing with Bobby Timmons, Junior Mance, and Walter Bishop, Jr., Monk asked him to play on ...