Gyan Riley

Gyan Riley: Food for the Bearded

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No matter how you present it, Food for the Bearded is one beautiful, heartwarming album of classical guitar music. Gyan Riley comes through as a sensible instrumentalist and a composer as unclassifiable as his father, Terry Riley. Elements of Spanish classical, contemporary, French jazz, and Indian classical music all become part of Gyan Riley's style. At times it's tempting to file it under world music for its flamenco overtones, at others under classical because of the Bach-like serenity of the second movement of "Sonata Quasifantokastica" or the Rodrigo overtones of the title track. And the two trio pieces with Tracy Silverman on viola and David P. Doll on percussion ("Sinspiration" and "Yubalation") explore a wonderful crossover field of world jazz without ever sounding trite. So one must come to terms with over-labeling and simply call this CD beautiful. It starts with four solo guitar pieces, of which "Piedad," penned by Terry Riley, stands out (although Gyan's compositional skill is not smaller). Follow the two trio tracks and the three-part "Sonata Quasifantokastica" for solo guitar. The album concludes with two pieces featuring Terry Riley. "Drift" is a guitar/piano duet, a new age jazz reverie. In "Balama," an improvisation over a traditional Indian raga, dad sings -- and the birds take a break to listen. Like his father, Gyan Riley emphasizes musicality over novelty without sacrificing creativity in the process. Recommended.

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