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Terry Riley



Along with Lamonte Young and Steve Reich, California composer Terry Riley is one of the great minimalist pioneers of the postwar era, legendary for his epic improvisational performances and his introduction of repetition and tape loops into Western music. In 1964 he composed his seminal -- and perhaps most famous work -- In C, a piece composed of 53 interlocking repetitive patterns which is widely referred to as the work that launched the minimalist movement. In the late '60s and early '70s he turned his sights towards solo works for the saxophone and keyboard on which he experimented with various kinds of tape delay. In 1970, he became interested in the Indian raga, studying with North Indian raga vocalist Prandit Pan Nath, with whom he would collaborate regularly over the next 26 years until Pan Nath's death in 1996. In the '70s while teaching the North Indian raga at Mills College in Oakland, Riley met David Harrington, the founder of The Kronos Quartet, leading to a fruitful relationship that has produced a dozen string quartets, a keyboard quintet ("Crows Rosary"), and a concerto for string quartet ("The Sands").

Over the years, Riley's creative output has slowed somewhat. But after master classical guitarist David Tanenbaum had asked him several times for a guitar piece, Riley responded, inspired no doubt by his teenage son, who had begun studying classical guitar himself. The result is The Book of Abbeyozzud (a made-up word), a planned, not-yet-finished series of twenty-eight works for the guitar -- sometimes solo, sometimes with another guitar, violin, or percussion. This is some of the most melodious stuff the minimalist master has ever composed. The work is powerfully influenced by Spanish folk music, and to a lesser degree by the Indian raga Riley has studied so extensively throughout his career. Tannenbaum plays most of the guitar parts here. Riley's son Gyan plays the others while Tracy Silverman plays violin, and William Winant plays percussion. The composer, Riley, also helped produce the record.

"Innocencia-Se Aparace la Muerte Inocentmente por la tarde" (Death Appears Innocently in the Afternoon), is the first in a two part piece called ?Dias de los Muertes? (Days of the Dead), written for guitar and percussion. It's a haunting meditative piece that exemplifies the delicate textures and atmospheres explored in The Book of Abbyozzud.

"The Pipes of Medb" and "Medb's Blues" (together on one track) come from Riley's 1994 release, Chanting the Light of Foresight. Riley composed the pieces on this album for the legendary ROVA Saxophone Quartet. The work is based on the Taín Bó Cuailnge ("The Cattle Raid of Cooley"), an invasion of Ulster by the armies of Medb and Ailill.