Gyan Riley Elixir
Of the many musicians who say that Terry Riley has had a profound lifelong influence on them, Gyan Riley has a particularly strong claim: He is one of the minimalist composer’s three children. He doesn’t shy away from that weighty legacy; he joined an all-star cast to perform the landmark In C in 2009. But Gyan Riley is his own musician, a guitar prodigy who has also influenced his father via their work together in both duo and ensemble settings.
Reportedly winning his first guitar in a raffle at age twelve and learning every song in his cassette collection by ear, Riley studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and spent years developing his voice with the likes of Czech violinist Iva Bittová, tabla master Zakir Hussain, and Kronos Quartet before releasing his debut solo album, Stream of Gratitude, on John Zorn’s label in 2013. An homage to his idols, from Bach to Zoran Dukic, the album was praised by AllMusic for Gyan’s coy flirtations with tonality and his capacity to “push the limits of guitar technique … with stylish grace.”
“Gyan Riley is a one-man American-music machine, amicably ranging across the fields of jazz, world music, and post-minimalism,” The New Yorker said. But at Big Ears, he won’t have to do it alone—he’s bringing his quartet, Elixir, which includes electric guitarist Taylor Levine, double bassist Greg Chudzik, and drummer David Cossin. The band plays slinky, serious music in a casually dashing style as Gyan ranges from plucked to slide guitar to ukulele with bewitching precision and emotional impact.