"Perrillo has matured into one of the most compelling and adventurous pianists of his generation, though only connoisseurs may know it."
– Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
Ron was born in New York City and moved to southern Florida at age 11, where he played trumpet and baritone during high school. By his junior year began performing gigs on keyboard and trumpet. He is largely self-taught, and it wasn’t until he was 19 that he learned more about jazz through several local teachers. The biggest influence on Ron’s writing and early development as a player, however, came from bass legend Jaco Pastorius, who was still active in the area.
Ron would frequently go to Jaco's house where he learned “hip” voicings on the piano and talked at length about music. Ron says he saw Jaco’s “great side” at these sessions, not the tragic, erratic and misunderstood side that was so often perceived by the public.
A paucity of jazz pianists and regional styles in southern Florida gave Ron the freedom to develop his own method of playing, unfettered to any one stylistic imperative. His influences include piano giants, including Bud Powell and Duke Ellington. Perrillo never heard the genius of Art Tatum until he was 26 -- thereafter, he greatly admired Tatum’s incredible re-harmonizations.
But even before he began listening to and studying the jazz tradition, Ron recalls hearing Steely Dan's Peg from the Aja album on a car radio and being left in a state of wonder - "what are those cool chords?”, he thought. He claims the pop group's jazz-inspired song writing and playing was probably one of his early links to jazz.
Ron Perrillo's gift of emotional expressiveness coupled with his outstanding piano virtuosity separates him from other artists and has gained him the respect of many jazz legends. His artistic maturity and sensitivity is especially evident in his original compositions as well as in his tasteful approach to classic jazz standards. Perrillo’s greatest strengths are his versatility and his ability to draw inspiration from all styles of contemporary music in his unique interpretation of jazz.
Perrillo has performed and toured with legends Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Von Freeman, and Woody Herman. He has backed Ira Sullivan, along with bassist Carroll and drummer Fludas, at Sullivan’s past Chicago appearances. He also has recorded with Eric Alexander, Joshua Breakstone and Paul McKee.