Alex Riel

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Alex Riel...

Alex Riel was born September 1940 in Copenhagen, Denmark, and has since the sixties remained firmly established as one of the most significant and influential jazz drummers in Europe.  His career began in the early sixties where he was the house drummer at the legendary jazz club "Montmartre" in Copenhagen. The rhythm section also included bass player Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and alternately pianists Tete Montuliu and Kenny Drew. During this time Alex Riel got to accompany a vast number of visiting international stars as Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Kenny Dorham, Don Byas, Donald Byrd, Yusef Lateef and many more.

This experience led to Alex Riel being chosen as the “Danish Jazz Musician Of the Year” in 1965, and shortly hereafter he released his first recording as a bandleader. It was a trio recording with Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and Kenny Drew which has now become collector’s item.  In 1965-66 Alex Riel also toured in Europe as a member of the renowned pianist Bill Evans’ trio with bassist Eddie Gomez.  

Over the years Alex Riel has played with an impressive number of fine jazz musicians representing both the traditional and the modern way. His very first impression of jazz drumming was that of Big Sid Catlett and Zutty Zingleton, and this early influence is still perceptible in his playing. However Riel’s appearance with musicians such as Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Jackie McLean, Archie Shepp, Michel Petrucciani, Gary Burton, John Scofield etc has made him widely known as an outstanding modern drummer taking up the styles of drummers Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes and Tony Williams.

Alex Riel has also been working a great deal outside the jazz area. He was a founding member of “The Savage Rose” - one of the most significant Scandinavian rock groups ever – with whom he recorded several albums. They toured extensively around Europe and US in the late 60s and early 70s. In 1969 they played at the original Newport Festival in USA where they shared the stage with Jethru Tull and James Brown. In addition to this, Alex Riel has drawn attention to himself as a rock drummer through his long time work with the successful Danish singer and composer Sebastian. Riel has furthermore been playing in a number of jazz-rock fusion bands. 

Ever since the late 50’s Alex Riel has played as a sideman on several hundred jazz recordings with various international artists. During the last decade he’s been releasing CD’s in his own name as well. These recordings are featuring contemporary stars such as Jerry Bergonzi, Michael Brecker, Kenny Werner and Mike Stern – but also “old” favourites like trumpet player Harry Sweet Edison and bassist Eddie Gomez.

In the recent years Alex Riel has worked a great deal with the Hamburg based NDR big band featuring Abdullah Ibrahim, and toured with a vast number of smaller groups, including groups led or co-led by himself.  He’s also been playing various studio jobs and concerts with artists like Phil Woods, Charlie Mariano, Lisa Nilsson, Stefano Bollani, Palle Danielsson, John Taylor, Johnny Griffin, Jacky Terrasson, Andy Sheppard, Palle Mikkelborg, Didier Lockwood and Pat Metheny.

Alex Riel has recieved several awards and marks of honour throughout his carreer. In fact he is regulary being referred to as “a living legend”. It is however his youthful playfulness on stage and his obvious enjoyment of playing the drums that perhaps to this day characterize him more than anything.

Please see www.alexriel.dk for further info, discography, press photos etc








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Alex Riel
All The Things You Are

from the album:
Alex Riel Quartet Featuring Charlie Mariano

Charlie Mariano – alto saxophone - Jacob Karlzon – piano - Jesper Lundgaard – double bass - Alex Riel – drums
Recorded live on September 23, 2007 at jazzclub Stars, Vordingborg, Denmark



















Alex Riel, Kenny Drew, Ben Webster, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen
photo: Jan Persson




Alex on his first "Ludwig" drum set...
photo: Jan Persson




Duke Ellington and Sam Woodyard presenting the award
"Danish Jazz Musician of the Year" to Alex Riel
photo: Jan Persson




Alex Riel and comedian and pianist Victor Borge
photo: by Finn Fons




Alex Riel, Ben Webster, Kenny Drew, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen




Alex Riel, Eddie Gomez, Bill Evans and Monica Zetterlund 
photo: Jan Persson




Hans Ulrik - Poul Halberg - Frans Bak - Bo Stief - Alex Riel




Alex Riel & Eddie Gomez




Savage Rose




Pat Metheny - Alex Riel 2006




Stefan Pasborgpresenting
"Life Time Achievement Award" from IFPI .. in 2007













Alex Riel Trio
Jesper Lundgaard - Alex Riel - Heine Hansen



...from Alex Riel
Bernhard, You have made a truly amazing and unique contribution to the world of drumming, and I’m very proud to have been included here.

Hope our paths will cross again soon so we can take up the chat - and drumming! - where we left it last time. Both the Missus and I would love that very much!

All the best to you and the family
Alex
Alex Riel












performed with:

Mads Vinding Trio
Ray Brown
Ben Webster
Jean-Luc Ponty
Pat Metheny
Vera Lynn
Lisa Nilsson
Didier Lockwood
Jesper Lundgaard
Heine Hansen
Hanne Boel
Art Farmer
Tubby Hayes
NDR Big Band
Mike Stern
Chris Minh Doky
Niels Lan Doky
Jerry Bergonzi
Lutz Buechner
Carsten Dahl
Jesper Lundgaard
Bob Brookmeyer
Niels-Henning
Ørsted Pedersen
Peter Vuust
Michael Brecker
Randy Brecker
Stephane Grapelli
Cat Anderson
John Abercrombie
Sven Asmussen
Albert Ayler
Toshiko Akiyoshi
Nat Adderley
Jan Allan
Arild Andersen
Benny Bailey
Gordon Beck
Uli Beckerhoff
Han Bennink
Rolf Billberg
Paul Bley
Francy Boland
Richard Boone
Allan Botschinsky
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Donald Byrd
Don Byas Quartet
Jon Balke
Etta Cameron
Ian Carr
Philip Catherine
Don Cherry
Jon Christensen
Buck Clayton
Ted Curson
Wolfgang Dauner
Wild Bill Davidson
Nathan Davis
Arne Domnérus
Klaus Doldinger
Kenny Dorham
Kenny Drew
Urszula Dudziak
Jack Dupree
Johnny Dyani
Roman Dylag
Roy Eldridge
Rolf Ericson
Booker Ervin
Maffy Falay
Mongezi Feza
Tomas Franck
Bud Freeman
David Friesen
Bill Frisell
Benny Golson
Terry Gibbs
Astrud Gilbert
Paul Gonsalves
Babs Gonzales
Dexter Gordon
Dusko Goykovich
George Gruntz
Rune Gustafsson
Scott Hamilton
Jan Hammer
Slide Hampton
John Handy
Jon Hendricks
David Horowitz
Fred Hunt
Abdullah Ibrahim
Chuck Israels
Theis Jensen
Howard Johnson
J.J. Johnson
Hank Jones
Thad Jones
Carmell Jones
Clifford Jordan
Duke Jordan
Barney Kessel
Erich Kleinschuster
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Eero Koivistoinen
Krzysztof Komeda
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Steve Kuhn
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Steve Lacy
Bireli Lagrene
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Sonny Boy Williamson
Monica Zetterlund

...and many more