You want the future of guitar?
How about a guitarist in his twenties who is trained in composition (MM, SF Conservatory), who has received major commissions (Elaine Kaufman Cultural Center, NY), and who comes from a well-known lineage (son of famed minimalist composer Terry Riley). A guitarist trained by one of our formeost guitarists (Tanenbaum) and one of the foremost guitarist composers (Bogdanovic). A guitarist who not only plays with but writes for other instruments and who accomplishes both tasks admirably.
Isn't this what every teacher says the guitarist of the future should be? If it is, then Gyan Riley is the future of guitar, now.
Aside from one piece by his father Terry Riley, all compositions on the disc were penned by Gyan and, as one would expect from a first CD, they represent a wide variety of styles. From the Bogdanovic-inspiredHappychap (polymetric study #6?) to the Raga inspired Balama (a haunting performance by the elder Riley) to the additive-eastern-European-rhythms of the Sonata Quasifantokastika, one can hear a composer finding his voice. His music has the rigor and manner of the best of Bogdanovic with a strong bent toward Indian vocabulary and the unmistakable transparency of his, Gyan's, father.
My favorite performance, though, comes in the composition Sinspiration (one of the only things I take issue with are his titles which often belie in their flippancy a passionate musical core). Tracy Silverman, the remarkably sensitive violinist (playing at the lowest of dynamic ranges in order to melt into the guitars accompaniment), performs with Riley on this wonderful piece, which was reminiscent of Bogdanovic's Lullaby for Angel Fire from Levantine Tales in that Gyan creates a melancholy, murky background (at which the guitar is so adept) through which comes the singing of a bowed string. The piece is pure magic.
For the guitarist, there are plenty of fireworks. The second section from Food for the Bearded drives and the Quasitremelodo sounds nearly impossible (imagine a tremolo piece with additive rhythms, i.e. groupings of 3+2+3+4).
A magnificent first recording replete with imagination, passion and originality.
Hats off, gentlemen. A genius.