by Gabriel Furtado
Terry and Gyan Riley played to a packed house Sunday night at Le Poisson Rouge, accompanied by guests artists David Crossin on drums and Tracy Silverman on violin. Gyan opened the night with a mix of his own compositions for solo guitar, violin, and drums, with Crossin and Silverman collaborating when needed. In Gyan's compositions one could easily feel the influence of his father, with repeating, interlocking segments and modes taken from Eastern music traditions. His tone and technique were thoroughly impressive, with both maintained without the rigid stage presence normally assumed by classical guitarists.
When Terry Riley took the stage, the crowd seemed almost giddy. The septuagenarian—donning a backwards baseball cap and a flowing beard—sat at the piano with the unassuming demeanor that has come to be regarded from the composer of some of the last half century's most seminal art music. He opened his set with a few of his signature improvisatory pieces for solo piano, with particular attention given to a piece in which Riley sang a Hindustani raga, his voice gravelly yet soothing.
The other musicians joined the stage after a few pieces, and when Terry and Gyan had a few moments of the performance to themselves, the musical connection between father and son was musically palpable, with the two anticipating each others' lines before they were even executed.
In total, the scope of the evening seemed a bit narrow and redundant, which is unfortunate given the scope of both Rileys' output. Despite this fact, Terry's piano work held my attention for the whole concert; while the veneer of jazz is the most easily distinguishable attribute of Riley's improvised piano works, one eventually grasps a greater depth. The nuance of his musical voice lies both in his touch on the keys and the creation of silences, alluding to a deep well of experience and inspirtation that lives within Riley.