Terry Riley

Terry Riley: Zeitgeist-Intuitive Leaps

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This CD by the group Zeitgeist contains two works by Riley which he personally supervised and created in close cooperation with the group. These performances are perhaps the best ones recorded of Riley's music played by others. "The Room of Remembrance" (1987) is built around five melodic phrases, each of which serves as a door. When the musicians go out they are in the realm of improvisation and must construct ways to re-enter the room. The internal story of the piece is built around the image of a medicine man, having expired in the wintry north of future America, being carried slowly up an icy incline as "snow clams" chant the Om Mane Padme Hum. A beautiful hymn in steady jazz-voiced chords opens the first section, and is interrupted at times by jolly phrases that recall gamelan music; snowflake patterns and windy tremolos are added, making the aural landscape wintry. Rushing patterns follow. The piece concludes with a subdued but fuller textured repeat of the initial hymn in steady chords. "Salome's Excellent Extension" (1989) is in four sections for quartet (piano, marimba, sax, vibraphone/steel drum) and part of a series of works with a similar title: the string quartets called "Salome Dances for Peace." This work offers a unique combination of the rich harmonic and gestural field of American West Coast jazz with Riley's pattern and Indian music sensibilities, with occasionally themes of a 1920s French "Les Six" turn.