Portland-based Ryan Francesconi's stock has soared of late as the main man on Joanna Newsom's remarkable triple album "Have One On Me". He arranged and played all over that massive opus, as well as figuring centrally in its live incarnation and the "Ys Street Band" of Newsom's previous record. But Francesconi does his own thing too.
"Parables", the first album under his own name is intended as a deeply personal attempt to realize all compositional potential he could using just the one simple instrument: Ryan recorded the album live and using no overdubs, and his solo acoustic guitar creates a rich sound that hints at his extensive musical interests - Baroque, Balkan, Turkish, Americana and jazz improvisation.
'One of the most awe-inspiring musicians I've known... This is solo music that sounds like an ensemble... it is nearly impossible to believe he's picking those strings with one hand'
- Joanna Newsom
'Skirting any obvious models, this is an attempt to establish his own original voice on the instrument ... These are polished and meditative pieces, given to frequent pauses and moody moments. On the title track Francesconi can flight out sparkling ornaments that recall Toumani Diabate's kora ... The music is sophisticated, but there's an escape from the urban, a sort of West Coast Buddhist romanticism. That's not meant as a snide comment -- this is a beautiful album, carried off with poetic aplomb."
- Clive Bell, The Wire
Ryan has formal training in everything from Balinese gamelan to computer science and has studied and worked with Lyubo Vladimirov (tambura), Nedyalko Nedyalkov (kaval), Miroslav Tadic and Larry Koonse (guitar), Tom Erbe (audio DSP programming), Lucky Mosko and David Rosenboom (composition) - among many others. He is a graduate of California Institute of the Arts, holding degrees in guitar (BFA) and composition (MFA).