Howard began playing piano at the age of 6 and jazz at the age of 13; he gained a Master's degree in music from York University. He had a trio with Barry Guy on bass and Alan Jackson, Jon Hiseman and Tony Oxley variously on drums in the late sixties to mid-seventies, and has since has performed and recorded as a solo pianist, in duos with Jaki Byard and Keith Tippett and in ensembles such as the London Jazz Composers Orchestra. He has taught at Goldsmiths, University of London, since the 1970s.
Three is One
"With the exception of "Still Life" and "Haunted", all these pieces are made by responding to an original recording, heard in the centre of the stereo picture, with fresh, reactive performances placed in the left, then the right channel. The result, far from clotted and dense, is extremely open and alert. The title reflects the music perfectly: three musical lines adopt the function of one, without any of the busy overlay with which some overdubbing pianists have tried to recapture something of the Tatum "second pianist" illusion (which only Cecil Taylor has ever been able to reproduce convincingly). "Still Life" and "Haunted", which have only one "new" piano part in each section, are grand conceptions stretching to a quarter of an hour each. The rest are shorter and tighter, but remarkably of a piece. Only on "Confessing" does Riley utilise extended or "inside piano" techniques to stretch the vocabulary. Three Is One is predominantly and triumphantly a virtuoso keyboard performance. Riley isn't the solo begetter; ASC's Stew Plews handles the recording with great skill and sensitivity. Everything comes through with due and equal weight: a remarkable achievement." Brian Morton: Jazz Review, April/May 2008 .
"...on this album he utilises not only standard changes (from the likes of 'Darn That Dream', 'Tenderly' and 'Star Eyes') but also a vast panoply of pianistic devices from all corners of the jazz tradition to achieve a uniquely personal and hugely enjoyable synthesis. Highlights include 'Inner Minor' and 'Deflection', both employing material from earlier works; but a good place to start might be with 'Things', Riley's extraordinary deconstruction of 'All The Things You Are'." Chris Parker: The Times.
ASC CD98 Three is One (£10) Howard Riley
Howard Riley overdubbed pianos
ASC CD16 Inner Minor (£10) Howard Riley
Howard Riley solo piano