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Herlin Riley

A native of New Orleans, Herlin Riley started on the drums when he was three. He played trumpet through high school, but he went back to drums in college. After graduating, he spent three years as a member of a band led by Ahmad Jamal. In the ensuing years, he worked often with Wynton Marsalis as a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and of Marsalis’s small groups and appears on more than two dozen of the trumpeter’s albums. Riley played a large part in developing the drum parts for Wynton Marsalis’s Pulitzer Prize-winning album, Blood on the Fields. He has also worked with George Benson, Harry Connick, Jr., and Marcus Roberts. As a leader, Herlin has released four albums: Watch What You’re Doing; Cream of the Crescent; New Direction; and Perpetual Optimism.

He’s also co-led a group with fellow Crescent City drummers Jason Marsalis and Shannon Powell, the New Orleans Groovemasters, that celebrates the music of New Orleans—past, present and future—with a fiery sound that evokes second lines of that city, as well as funk, R&B and jazz.

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