"Art is the creative custodian of the truth"...Heidegger
"There is no true Art without secrecy"...Camus
Jack Reilly is a pianist, composer, and author whose work has achieved a remarkable synthesis of traditional classical music with jazz. His compositions and performances reflect his solid musicianship, intelligence and sophistication. The enthusiastic response his European tour with George Russell's New York Band and his subsequent performance with the band at the Village Vanguard in New York City; his concert at Jordan Hall in Boston with the Jack Reilly Trio, where he was given a standing ovation; his recordings and books --- three volumes on jazz improvisation entitled Species Blues, nine folios of his compositions and the acclaimed book The Harmony of Bill Evans confirms the scope of Reilly's talents and versatility.
Reilly has also presented lecture/recitals at numerous schools in North America and in Europe including presentations at the prestigious International Piano Festival and Competition at the University of Maryland. Formerly chairman of the Department of Jazz Studies at the New England Conservatory of Music, he has served on the faculties of the Mannes College of Music, New York University, The New School, The Berklee School of Music, and as chairman of the Jazz Program at La Musica A Villa Scarsella in Diano Marina, Italy.
His recordings include include albums of original material: Blue Sean Green, Tributes, The Brinksman, Masks, Here's What I Like, Tzu-Jan Volume 1 and 2, and two new releases, Pure Passion and Live in Poland, all on the Unichrom label.
His compositions include Jazz Requiem (1968), an Oratorio comissioned by the NEA (1974), Chuang-Tzu - Theme and Eight Variations for Orchestra (1993), Concertina for Jazz Piano and Strings(dedicated to Bill Evans), Lullabys for Orchestra, Fantasy for Piano and Wind Quintet(dedicated to George Russell), Piano Sonata in D Minor, and Concerto for Harmonica and Strings.
In 2001 his first Piano Concerto for jazz trio and orchestra, titled, Orbitals was premiered in Houghton Michigan,with the composer as soloist, with the Keweenaw Symphony, Jeff Bell-Hanson, conducting.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Cortland Linder : A Most Unusual Student
I am in the habit of writing praise, bordering on the hagiographic, about my former teachers, (Tristano/Overton/Ulehla/Maneri). Today I am going to tell you about Cortland Linder, a most unusual man and my student since 1986. It was in 1986 that Cortland showed up at my first Bill Evans classes in NYC at the Lucy Moses studios on 67th street near Broadway. He was 76 then and full of the enthusiasm of teenager desperate for knowledge but with the charm of a seasoned executive, confident and self assured and full of wit and an unusual zest for life.
The Evans classes met once a week for 6 weeks. Cortland and I talked after each class about other pianists; one he enjoyed and admired alot was George Shearing. When the Evans seminars ended he asked if I would take on a student his age. I said age is not a factor in my teaching philosophy; I accept anyone eager to learn and with a desire to practice the lessons. We began the next week after the last Evans class.
His first lesson revealed a man with a marvelous ear for harmony, sophisticated two-handed piano voicings, and a wide knowledge of all music. His only weakness was in linear improvisational skills. I was excited by the challenge of opening up horizons for him to conquer. He would always bring to his lessons tons of questions; questions about song form structure, chord progressions and their functions within the structure; he even brought in some Bach contrapuntal works because he saw the relevancy and relationship to the jazz repertoire we were studying. I always answered by referring to a chapter in the SCHOENBERG THEORY of HARMONY text. (I studied Schoenberg's harmony/counterpoint course with Joe Maneri in the 60's). The first time I mentioned the Schoenberg text he came in the following week with the book under his arm, asking me to outline the chapters that I referred to the previous weeks! He wanted to study this course!
Lessons continued regularly for about 2-3 years in NYC. Then I had to give up the NY studio so he traveled to my Park Slope Brooklyn home studio for another 2-3 years. He lived in Pauling NY at the time so he had to take a 40 minute subway ride after an hour on the New York Central. He never complained about traveling almost 2 hours for his piano lessons at almost 80 now!. He would make light of it saying he caught up on some much needed reading he had to do for his consultation work or some analysis he had to complete for his lesson.
A move further away in 1996 ended formal lessons. However, we spoke regularly on the phone. He always had more questions. I would always answer with sending him musical examples to study and analyze from the jazz/classical literature. He also took a keen and sincere interest in my own blossoming composing/performing career. I'd send him tapes of my concerts, a new CD I had recorded, etc. If I hadn't heard from him in a few months I'd give a shout and we'd talk for over an hour.
More questions; more challenges for me to answer to his satisfaction. I used to joke, saying that once you're a Jack Reilly student it's for a lifetime. 'Tis true. I've taught 100's of students and after they stop, I always get a call from 80% several times a year. It's one of the unexpected joys of teaching; to stay in touch with your students. Private teaching carries with it a responsibility nurturing a delicate, highly personal relationship; different with each student, and spiritually rewarding. I will probably never retire from private teaching.
Cortland Linder has retired from studying. He passed away a few weeks ago at age 96. We hadn't spoken in a few months and when the call came in from his son Mark, I knew immediately he was gone.
Like father like son, we chatted for almost an hour about his father's love and dedication to music to the very end. It was just a few months ago that Cortland called to say he had heard Bach's E Major French Suite and wanted to know the best edition to buy. He wanted to study and analyze one movement and send it to me for a look see. I responded by ordering the complete French suites for him. A week later after he received them, his analysis arrived in the post. I corrected it and sent it back. I told him I would send him my analysis. If I were to grade him, Cort would receive a mark of 90% or an A letter grade! I never got around to sending him my harmonic analysis of the suite. I'm sure he's continuing his pursuit of music on another plane of consciousness.
Mr. Linder, I will never forget you. You have enriched my life and I am forever grateful.
Posted by Jack Reilly 11/05/06