Kieran Daly breaks down musical standards before rewriting them | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Kieran Daly breaks down musical standards before rewriting them 

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click to enlarge Kieran Daly

Kieran Daly

Erin Workman

The standard jazz repertoire is a selection of mid-20th-century popular songs and compositions that jazz musicians have long been expected to master in order to establish their bona fides. Though the canonization of these standards ensures that players know what to play and that listeners know what to expect, it also imposes an aesthetic center of gravity that hasn’t moved since the age of rotary telephones. Kieran Daly has managed the near impossible task of doing something with standards that hasn’t been done before. The guitarist and composer, who’s been based in Chicago since 2016, often plays familiar themes such as Miles Davis’s “Half Nelson” or the Charlie Parker vehicle “Cherokee” (composed by Roy Noble). But he and his accompanists don’t construct solos from the tunes’ chords and wait for their turn to show their stuff—instead they fragment the melodies and play in different tempos from one another, focusing their improvisational chops on the task of sustaining cohesion while negotiating structural gaps and conflicting time signatures. The resulting music is a bit like seeing a familiar image reflected by a shattered mirror. The gaps in the tunes seem to correspond with the gaps in Daly’s performance schedule—he just doesn’t play out very often, which makes his two upcoming shows all the more noteworthy. On Friday, August 9, at Elastic, he will perform a solo suite entitled Three Subsequent Compositions for Unaccompanied Arbitrary Fretless Electric Guitar and Deflation CSEGs This Year. The following Sunday he’ll play fretted guitar and lead a quartet that includes bassist Jason Roebke, alto saxophonist Sarah Clausen, and drummer Phil Sudderberg.   v

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