Paul Riser

born on 15/8/1936 in Detroit, MI, United States

Paul Riser

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Paul Riser

Paul Riser (born August 15, 1936) is an American trombonist and Motown musical arranger who was responsible for co-writing and arranging dozens of top ten hit records. His legacy as one of the "Funk Brothers" is similar to that of most of the other "Brothers", as his career has been overlooked and overshadowed by the stars of Motown that became household names. Some of the Funk Brothers he worked with include: Earl Van Dyke, Johnny Griffith, Robert White, Eddie Willis, Joe Messina, Dennis Coffey, Wah Wah Watson, James Jamerson, Bob Babbitt, Eddie Watkins, Richard "Pistol" Allen, Uriel Jones, Andrew Smith, Jack Ashford, Valerie Simpson, Eddie "Bongo" Brown, Benny Benjamin, Cornelius Grant, Joe Hunter, Richard "Popcorn" Wylie, Marcus Belgrave and Teddy Buckner.

Early career

A graduate of Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan where he studied classical and jazz trombone, Paul was introduced to Berry Gordy at Motown by a friend who had already been working there. He went on to become an uncredited trombonist on most of Motown Records' hits in the late 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s (Motown did not list session musician credits on their releases until 1971), and he has become regarded as one of the most important trombone players in modern music history and his writing and arranging skills are without parallel - having written or arranged on such hits as: "My Girl" and "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" by The Temptations, "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye, "If I Were Your Woman" by Gladys Knight & The Pips, "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)[1] written by Ashford and Simpson as performed by Diana Ross, and "The Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. The instrumental B-side to "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" earned Riser a Grammy with writer/arranger Norman Whitfield for Best R&B Instrumental Performance.

Later career

After 11 years of working steadily with Motown, Riser found work with other record labels. Artists that Riser has arranged for outside of Motown include: Luther Vandross, Phil Collins, The Carpenters, Carly Simon, The Doobie Brothers, Tom Jones, Quincy Jones, Natalie Cole, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Michael McDonald, Johnny Mathis and Patti LaBelle.

In 2003, he was a notable presence on the R. Kelly album, "Chocolate Factory", arranging many songs on the album including the top 10 hit, "Step in the Name of Love".

In 2009, Riser was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum [2] and he attended the Motown 50th anniversary celebration. As of 2010, Riser is still active in the field of music - teaching and arranging.

When asked in a recent interview what his favorite musical rhythm arrangement was, he replied that it was Diana Ross' cover version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", which he arranged in 1970.

Partial discography

  • Diana Ross & the Supremes Join The Temptations LP (Co-arranger - Motown, 1968)
  • Soul Spin LP by The Four Tops (Co-arranger - Motown MS 695, 1969)
  • Signed, Sealed & Delivered LP by Stevie Wonder (Co-arranger - Motown TS 304, 1970)
  • War and Peace LP by Edwin Starr (Co-arranger - Motown, 1970)
  • The Return of the Magnificent Seven LP by The Supremes & The Four Tops (Co-arranger - Motown, 1971)
  • If I Were Your Woman LP by Gladys Knight & the Pips (Co-arranger - Motown SS 731, 1971)
  • Surrender (Arranger - Motown, 1971)
  • Exposed LP by Valerie Simpson (Arranger - Motown, 1971)
  • Floy Joy LP by The Supremes (Arranger - Motown M751L, 1972)
  • All Directions LP by The Temptations (Arranger and conductor - Motown, 1972)
  • Masterpiece LP by The Temptations (Arranger - Motown, 1973)
  • Diana & Marvin LP by Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye (Arranger - "Just Say, Just Say" - Motown, 1973)
  • Eddie Kendricks - LP by Eddie Kendricks (Arranger - "Where Do You Go (Baby)" - Motown, 1973)
  • Everybody Likes Some Kind of Music - LP by Billy Preston (String and horn arrangements - A&M, 1973)
  • Syreeta LP by Syreeta and Stevie Wonder (String arrangements, Motown, 1974)[3]
  • Look Out For#1 LP by The Brothers Johnson (Horn arrangements, A&M, 1976)[4]
  • Any Way You Like It LP by Thelma Houston (Writer, Arranger, Motown 2643-S, 1976)
  • Keep It Comin' LP by Valerie Simpson (Arranger, Tamla/Motown, 1977) [5]
  • Shake It Well LP by The Dramatics (Co-arranger, ABC Records, 1977) [6]
  • Who's Zoomin' Who? LP by Aretha Franklin (String arrangements, Arista, 1985)[7]
  • In Square Circle LP by Stevie Wonder (String arrangements, Tamla/Motown, 1985)


  • Talor, Harold Keith, The Motown Music Machine. Jadmeg Music Publishing, 2004
  • Slutsky, Allan, Standing in the Shadows of Motown. Hal Leonard Corporation, 1989
  1. "Diana Ross' Greatest Hits - Motown LP M-869P1, 1976
  3. Motown LP, M808S1
  4. A&M LP SP-4567
  5. Tamla/Motown LP T6-35151
  6. ABC Records LP AB1010
  7. Arista LP AL8-8286, 1985

External links

  • [1] Overview at IMDb.
  • [2] interview
  • [3] "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" on YouTube
  • Video interview - In the original Motown studio.
This page was last modified 09.08.2013 11:53:07

This article uses material from the article Paul Riser from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.