Herlin Riley


Oral History Information

Interview Date
Job Title
Musician, Drummer

Herlin Riley is a native of New Orleans and a continuing link in the chain of great jazz drummers. Herlin was raised in a musical household by his grandparents and originally played the trumpet in the family group, The Lastie Brothers Combo, as well as unknowingly playing in the same youth marching band with Wynton Marsalis. Herlin watched his uncle play drums in church and would eventually switch over to drums while on tour with a group in Texas. Herlin went on to play two stints with Ahmad Jamal from 1982 to 1987 and from 2009 to Jamal's retirement in 2014. Wynton and Herlin reunited in 1987, when Herlin was asked to join the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra which ended up being a seventeen-year collaboration. As a member of the LSJO, Herlin began to teach students in jazz workshops which has led him to have great success conducting drum clinics and master classes.