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Re: Dean Reilly, 1926 - 2021
Articulately offered, as always, Jim, and one of the classic pictures from those programs shows John at the microphone, Nick and Bob appearing to be belly laughing. Dean was leaning his head on his bass, laughing, and it epitomized the evening with the Kingston Trio. John was hilarious. High quality music, harmonies, and laughter, all make for a memorable evening. RIP, Dean. He was a class act and complimented the Trio's work.
I think it some kind of wonderful that this sad but inevitable notice should come so late in my own life, just short of 60 years since we all came to know the name of Dean Reilly, who became the permanent replacement for David "Buck" Wheat as Kingston Trio touring bassist in 1962 and who passed away yesterday in his beloved San Francisco at the age of 94.
Dean was so genial and affable that the Trio members themselves recognized that his unobtrusive stage presence was a factor in their live performances, so much so that in the two concert programs I have of the Stewart years, Dean appears in multiple pictures in both - smiling, beaming, enjoying and playing off of Stewart's occasional ex temp quips and a number of joshing comments written into the group's concert script.
Reilly was a first-rate jazz musician both before and after his stint with the Trio, playing with Dizzy Gillespie and Vince Guaraldi among others. According to Stewart's buddy George Yanok, Dean was still playing gigs in the Bay Area right up til a few weeks ago. I remember myself in the last 30 years checking club and concert listings in the Bay Area and always finding Dean and his Trio performing somewhere.
Dean came to the Trio Fantasy Camp once or twice, and he was as open and engaging as he could be. He joined in the onstage banter and chatted extensively with anyone who'd walk up and start a conversation.
Reilly spent about 6 of his 70+ years as a professional musician playing the unchallenging and exceptionally simple three chord tunes of the Kingstons, but there was never even a whiff of patronization or "this-is-really-beneath-me" attitude that other jazz artists sometimes projected when dealing with folkies.
Dean Reilly - and I'm sure we all caught the broad and affectionate irony of Nick Reynolds' reference to this quiet and unassuming master musician as "Mad Dog" - enriched the musical lives of all of us who knew of him through the KT, and he did so with the same enthusiasm and professionalism that made him so valued by first rank jazz players during the last half century and more.
RIP to the last survivor of those fabulous concert years of 1957 - 67.