b. Douglas Brian Riley, 12 April 1945, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, d. 27 August 2007, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Riley played piano from early childhood, then studied in Toronto at the Royal Conservatory of Music and at the city’s university. Among his interests was the music of the First Nations, notably that of the Iroquois. Meanwhile, he also played in an R&B band at a Toronto nightclub and began gaining a reputation as a composer of jingles. In the 70s he worked in television as producer and sideman and also led his own large vocal and instrumental group, Dr. Music. The group’s recordings included some Canadian Top 20 hits and a series of albums for the GRT label in the early 70s. This work continued through the following decade, including Dr. Music Circa 1984, and in all Riley played on some 300 recording sessions. In the 90s Riley paid more attention to playing live music, chiefly in a quartet with saxophonist Phil Dwyer, and remained in demand for performances.
Riley devoted much time to composing at his home on Prince Edward Island. His work spanned classical and pop music, and in addition to piano he also played organ, polling in the top spot of the Jazz Report Awards as Jazz Organist Of The Year from 1993-2000. Among musicians with whom he played and sometimes recorded, or worked in production, are Guido Basso, the Brecker Brothers, Measha Bruggergosman, Ray Charles (playing on and arranging for 1968’s Doing His Thing), and Placido Domingo (arranging ‘None But The Lonely Heart’). Riley also recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra), Ofra Harnoy, Molly Johnson, Jake Langley, Gordon Lightfoot, Natalie McMaster, Anne Murray (appearing on some 25 albums), Jackie Richardson, John Roby, Bob Seger, Ringo Starr, Dionne Taylor, David Clayton-Thomas and Tyler Yarema. Riley was musical director of the Famous People Players for some two decades and composed ballets, including Dreams, for the Canadian National Ballet, a double concerto for flute, clarinet, saxophone and string quartet for Moe Koffman, and a piano concerto for Mario Bernardi and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. In 2004 Riley was awarded the Order of Canada. In 2007, he was travelling back to his home when he collapsed and died from a heart attack at Calgary airport.~ Rovi