Art Lillard Music

Composer, arranger, bandleader, 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. Having begun his college music studies in Florida, Art transferred to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he earned merit scholarships, several Faculty Association Awards for Performance, and his bachelor’s degree in jazz composition and arranging.

In addition, he has studied privately with Dean Anderson, percussionist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra; drummer Joe Hunt; jazz educator/composer Karl Berger of Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, NY; classical composer/conductor Michael Rosenzweig; Brazilian percussionist Portinho; Tom Boras of New York University’s Jazz Department; jazz composer/pianist Kenny Werner; drummers Steve Bagby, Andrew Cyrille, and Eliot Zigmund; acclaimed big-band leaders/composers Mike Gibbs, Mike Holober, Greg Hopkins, Jim McNeely, and Maria Schneider; and, for harmony and counterpoint, revered music educator Paul Caputo.

A professional drummer since 1970, Art has had a rich performing career, leading and co-leading various jazz ensembles, and as a sideman in groups of various musical genres, including jazz, country & western, cabaret, rock, and show music. He has recorded with swing/blues band Groovalaya (“Groovalaya ’92”), with vocalist Cleve Douglass (“Duke Ellington Boulevard”), and with flutist Jan Leder (“Passage to Freedom” on Monad Records and “Nonchalant” on A-Records). He performed at the Greenwich Village jazz Festival in 1983 with the Amy Duncan Trio (at the Blue Note), at Finland’s Pori Jazz Festival in 1993 with the New York All-Stars, and at the Hunter Mountain Festival with Slicker, a country & western group, in 1993, ’94 and ’95. During the 1990’s he also played at the Hudson Riverfest in Yonkers with his Heavenly Big Band, with the Dixieland band the 9th Street Stompers, and several times with the Jan Leder Quartet. Art’s own ensembles include the Heavenly Big Band, the Blue Heaven swing sextet, the On Time trio/quartet, and the Art Lillard Duo. He has produced eight professional recordings with these bands.

Art has written hundreds of compositions in a wide range of musical genres. Regularly commissioned by performers, producers and other composers to arrange music for vocalists and instrumental groups, his works have been recorded on compact disc by vibraphonist Gust Tsilis (“Sequestered Days” on Enja Records), vocalist Larry Browne (“Larry Browne Sings Swing Bean”), saxophonist Claire Daly (“Heaven Help Us All” on Daly Bread Records), flutist Jan Leder (as noted above), the band Groovalaya (as noted above), the jazz group led by Pere Soto and David Valdez (“Oasis” on Diatic Records), and a collaboration on three recordings with pianist/composer Michael Jefry Stevens on Artists Recording Collective. Lillard 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 of HBO’s “True Blood,” as well as in the 2014 movie, “Teacher of the Year,” and an online commercial for Mercedes Benz.

Art’s theater background includes productions by the Amas Repertory Theater under the leadership of Rosetta Lenoire and several decades with the Theater for the New City. In 1992 and ’94 Art toured Europe with the Broadway show “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, including performances at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy and the Pori Festival in Finland, and in 1995, ’96, ’98, 2008, and 2010 he toured Europe and South America with an original production of “Phantom of the Opera.”

Over the years Art has played professionally with such notables as Ron Affif, Harry Allen, David Ambrosio, Ray Anderson, Jeff Andrews, William Ash, Roy Ayers, Billy Bang, Roni Ben-Hur, Karl Berger, Tom Bergeron, Steve Bloom, Steve Blum, Paul Bollenback, Marty Bound, 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, Champian Fulton, Ray Gallon, Keith Ganz, Hilary Gardner, George Garzone, Hilliard Green, Kelly Green, Drew Gress, Miles Griffith, Eric Gunnison, Mary Cleere Haran, Ratzo B. Harris, John Hart, Michael Hashim, Freddie Hendrix, John Hicks, Patience Higgins, Jimmy Hill, Greg Hopkins, Jazzmeia Horn, Paul Horn, Dick Hyman, Ron Jackson, Jack Jeffers, Gary Kelly, Dave Kikoski, Frank Kimbrough, Nancy King, Mark Ledford, Mike Longo, John Marshall, Cecil McBee, Donny McCaslin, George Mesterhazy, Pat Metheny, Paul Meyers, Dom Minasi, Charles Moffett, Antoinette Montague, Wilbur Morris, Diane Moser, Bob Mover, Simon Nabotov, Mark Nadler, Zaid Nasser, Wayne Naus, Arturo O’Farrill, Marco Panascia, Ken Peplowski, Sasha Perry, Roberta Piket, Bob Porcelli, Dave Post and Swingadelic, Scott Reeves, Emily Remler, Perry Robinson, Ari Roland, Wallace Roney, Saul Rubin, Barbara Russell, Ali Ryerson, Harvie S, Radam Schwartz, “Little” Jimmy Scott, Sahib Shihab, Coy Shockley, Jack Six, Mauricio Smith, Sean Smith, Warren Smith, James Spaulding, Michael Jefry Stevens, Stan Strickland, Carol Sudhalter, Ira Sullivan, Helen Sung, Steve Swell, Buddy Terry, Bob Thoesen Big Band, David Torkanowsky, Roseanna Vitro, Jack Walrath, Danny Walsh, James Weidman, Mark Whitecage, Deanna Witkowski, and Anthony Wonsey.

Art is also a respected teacher and mentor of many years to his own students. He has taught privately, at several community music schools, and at Long Island University.