Art Lillard


Composer, arranger, bandleader, lyricist, and drummer Art Lillard grew up in Miami, where his jazz roots include playing with the great master Ira Sullivan and studying with pianist/composer Wally Cirillo. Art also studied at Karl Berger’s Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, New York. Subsequently, he graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston with a bachelor’s degree in composition and arranging, having garnered multiple scholarships and honors along the way. Art has also studied with Greg Hopkins, Mike Gibbs, Paul Caputo, Tom Boras, Kenny Werner, Portinho, Maria Schneider, Mike Holober, and Jim McNeely.

Art’s nine-horn Heavenly Big Band has been playing in clubs and concert spaces since 1987. Their compact disc, “Reasons to be Thankful,” was released on the Summit Records label in 2006, and their “Certain Relationships” in 2015. Art’s On Time Band, a trio/quartet that has been performing for many years, produced a recording, “It’s Time,” released by Summit in 2009. In 1998, Art's seven-piece swing band, Blue Heaven, appeared on television playing original compositions on two episodes of CBS's daytime series, "Guiding Light.”

A professional musician since 1970, Art has had a rich performing career. He has led and co-led many jazz ensembles. He has also played drums as a sideman in groups of various musical genres, including jazz, country & western, cabaret, rock, and show music. He has recorded with some of these groups. Along the way, he has played with such jazz luminaries as Ben Brown, Jaki Byard, Gilly Coggins, Junior Cook, Kenny Davern, Buddy DeFranco, Joe Diorio, Bobby Forrester, Eric Gunnison, Greg Hopkins, Paul Horn, Nancy King, Cecil McBee, Arturo O’Farrill, the aforementioned Ira Sullivan, and many more.

Art has written hundreds of compositions in a wide range of musical genres and is often commissioned by performers, producers and other composers to arrange music for vocalists and instrumental groups. Art’s original works appear on cd recordings by vibraphonist Gust Tsilis, vocalist Larry Browne, saxophonist Claire Daly, flutist Jan Leder, the band Groovalaya, and the duo of guitarist Pere Soto and saxophonist David Valdez. Art also wrote and scored the soundtrack for a film, “The Wannabees.” Some of his compositions can be heard on episodes of the MTV productions, “Jackass” and “Cat House,” and on HBO’s “True Blood,” as well as in the 2014 movie, “Teacher of the Year,” and an online commercial for Mercedes Benz.


2001-2017          Maggio Music, Brooklyn, NY.   Teach drums, flute, piano.
and 1986-94
1973-present      Private teaching: drums, piano, music theory, harmony, composition, and arranging.
2001- 2003         New York City Public Schools. Substitute teacher.
Spring 2001        Public School 226, Brooklyn, NY. Taught music theory, flute-recorder, rhythm, and instrumental music to middle school classes (grades seven through nine). Responsibilities included purchasing band instruments for the school.
1997                    Bromley Studio, Brooklyn, NY.  Taught various instruments.
1996                    Music faculty, Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY.   Taught drums.                       
1993-94              After-school programs at P.S. 1 and P.S. 169, Brooklyn, NY. Taught choral music and flute-recorder to elementary school students. Designed curricula and planned and executed concert performances for these programs.
1982-84              Elsie Bennett Studio; Kings Music; Little Theater School; Brooklyn and Bronx, NY.   Taught piano, drums, flute.
1975                   Groton High School, Groton, MA.   Taught drums.
Various               Substitute teaching at private schools, including Brooklyn Music School, Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, and Westchester School of Music.
MUSICAL EXPERIENCE, 1970 to present
PLAYING:  Extensive experience as bandleader, drummer, percussionist, co-leader, flutist, pianist, vocalist. Excellent sight-reader; accomplished in many styles.  Theater: Toured Europe and South America with productions of "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Phantom of the Opera," including Pori Jazz Festival, Finland, and Umbria Jazz Festival, Italy, 1993. New York experience includes Theater for the New City, the Living Theater, and Amas Repertory Theater. Shows include "Dreamgirls," "West Side Story," "Grease," "Conrack," "Showboat," "Kiss of the Spider Woman," and many original productions.  Recording: Recorded with vocalist Cleve Douglass, flutist Jan Leder, pianist Robert Silverman, vocalist Bill Young, swing/blues group Groovalaya, and my own bands (see below). Recent: January - February 2012, Jakarta, Indonesia: Played percussion in pit orchestra in the American version of “Phantom of the Opera.”
COMPOSING:  Have written and arranged extensively for various kinds of ensembles in a variety of styles. Have written and arranged music for film soundtrack. Have had my compositions played by many groups, including a performance on National Public Radio by Gust Tsilis's ensemble, Isotope, and performances on international television by my swing septet, Blue Heaven (see below). My compositions have been performed on the following compact disc recordings: "Sequestered Days" by the Gust Tsilis quintet (on Enja), "Larry Browne sings Swing Bean," "Groovalaya '92," Jan Leder's "Passage to Freedom" (on Monad), Jan Leder's "Nonchalant" Diatic Records), David Valdez and Pere Soto’s “Oasis,” my own Heavenly Big Band’s “Reasons To Be Thankful” (on Summit Records, 2006) and my own On Time Band’s “It’s Time” (also on Summit, 2009). My compositions have also been used in MTV productions, “Jackass” and “Cat House” and on HBO’s “True Blood,” as well as on an online Mercedes-Benz commercial.
LEADING: Since 1987 have led my own New York-based 16-piece ensemble, Art Lillard's Heavenly Big Band, which plays original music and standards from a repertoire of over 130 tunes. This band has two compact disk recordings on the Summit Records label. From 1978 to 1982 led my Boston-based band, Spring, which played my own music, performing extensively in the New England area. My swing septet, Blue Heaven, played my compositions on two episodes of the CBS television program, "Guiding Light," broadcast internationally in October 1998. I also lead several other small ensembles.           
JAZZ GREATS: Have played with such notables as Ron Affif, Harry Allen, Ray Anderson, Jeff Andrews, William Ash, Roy Ayers, Billy Bang, Roni Ben-Hur, Karl Berger, Tom Bergeron, Steve Bloom, Steve Blum, Paul Bollenback, Joanne Brackeen, Don Braden, Ben Brown, Cameron Brown, Brenda Buffalino, Bud Burridge, Jaki Byard, Tony Castellano, Thomas Chapin, Gilly Coggins, Joe Cohn, Junior Cook, Jay Corree, Bill Crow, Adrian Cunningham, Bob Cunningham, Claire Daly, Café DaSilva, Kenny Davern, Jon Davis, Santi Debriano, Buddy DeFranco, Rick Dellaratta and Jazz for Peace, Stacy Dillard, John diMartino, Joe Diorio, Jerry Dodgion, Dave Douglas, Billy Drewes, Dominique Eade, Essiet Essiet, Mark Feldman, Bobby Forrester, Joel Forrester, Ray Gallon, Keith Ganz, Hilary Gardner, George Garzone, Hilliard Green, Kelly Green, Drew Gress, Miles Griffith, Eric Gunnison, Ratzo B. Harris, John Hart, Michael Hashim, Freddie Hendrix, John Hicks, Patience Higgins, Jimmy Hill, Greg Hopkins, Paul Horn, Dick Hyman, Ron Jackson, Jack Jeffers, Dave Kikoski, Frank Kimbrough, Nancy King, Mark Ledford, Mike Longo, John Marshall, Cecil McBee, Donny McCaslin, George Mesterhazy, Pat Metheny, Dom Minasi, Charles Moffett, Antoinette Montague, Wilbur Morris, Bob Mover, Mark Nadler, Zaid Nasser, Wayne Naus, Arturo O'Farrill, Marco Panascia, Sasha Perry, Bob Porcelli, Dave Post and Swingadelic, Scott Reeves, Emily Remler, Perry Robinson, Ari Roland, Saul Rubin, Barbara Russell, Ali Ryerson, Harvie S, “Little” Jimmy Scott, Coy Shockley, Jack Six, Mauricio Smith, Sean Smith, Warren Smith, James Spaulding, Michael Jefry Stevens, Stan Strickland, Carol Sudhalter, Ira Sullivan, Helen Sung,  Buddy Terry, Bob Thoesen Big Band, Roseanna Vitro, Jack Walrath, Danny Walsh, James Weidman, Mark Whitecage, Deanna Witkowski, and Anthony Wonsey.

2012-2013            BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, under the tutelage of Jim McNeely and Mike Holober. Enrolled in “A” level workshop.
1973-present      Private study
                           Private lessons in drums, percussion, piano, flute, string bass, guitar, composition, and theory.  Studied composition with big-band composer/conductor Maria Schneider, classical composer/conductor Michael Rosenzweig, and Tom Boras, Director of New York University’s Jazz Department. Studied jazz harmony with pianist/ jazz educator Kenny Werner; advanced tonal harmony and species counterpoint with respected music educator Paul Caputo; and re-harmonization with jazz trumpeter, composer, and educator John McNeil.
1978-1981         Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA
                          Earned Bachelor of Music degree with major in jazz composition and arranging.
1975                  Creative Music Studio, Woodstock, NY
                          Studied with Karl Berger, Anthony Braxton, Don Cherry, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Stu Martin, and John Surman.
1973                  Florida International University, Sweetwater, FL
                          Earned credits toward music degree.
1971-1972         Miami-Dade Junior College, Miami, FL
 & 1969-1970    Earned credits toward music degree.
2003                 Performance of my big band was recorded by the Rutgers University Jazz Archives
1994                 Third place, original instrumental compositions, in Sound Views magazine's competition of new recordings, for my composition, "To Love One Someone."
1981                 Faculty Association Award for Performance, Berklee College of Music.
1979-1981        Student scholarships, Berklee College of Music and Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
1973                  Student scholarship, Florida International University.
1972                  Outstanding Academic Achievement Award, Miami-Dade Junior College.
1969                  Student scholarship, Miami-Dade Junior College