Chicago born/L.A. based drummer/composer Dylan Ryan’s entry into music began with attempts at guitar and piano playing, but the aspiring musician found himself particularly attracted to the drums. He began to dissect and learn drum parts from some of his Heavy Metal favorites, then took lessons at Northwestern University, where he studied under the tutelage of various Chicago Jazz players. While moving on to study literature and film at DePaul University, Ryan began to perform at a variety of venues with different Jazz groups, eventually becoming well known in the city’s Avant-Garde and Free Jazz circles.
Ryan has performed with a variety of adventurous projects since then, including the experimental group Icy Demons (with Man Man’s Christopher Powell), Indie Rock act Cursive and the Free Jazz ensemble Harmonize Most High. But the project perhaps most associated with Ryan is Herculaneum, a six-member “Prog Jazz” group whose members have splintered to cities around the country, though they still find time to play together. Ryan’s Herculaneum bandmate, exploratory saxophonist David McDonnell, currently calls Cincinnati home.
Ryan continues to play with a variety of groups, but his current focus is on the superb “power trio” Dylan Ryan/Sand, featuring guitarist Timothy Young (who has worked with the likes of John Zorn, Beck and many others) and bassist Devin Hoff (Nels Cline Singers, Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto). The threesome got together in 2012 and immediately recorded Sand’s debut, Sky Bleached.
“I had the idea to write songs for a Jazz band that had elements of Black Sabbath, The Cure, Jaco-era Joni Mitchell and Free Jazz,” Ryan said in the press materials for Sky Bleached. “Sand is a Jazz band, but it reflects the different things I grew up on and listen to; it reflects the fact that I am playing Jazz, but that I wasn’t born in 1945.”
After touring and becoming more familiar with each other, the three musicians reconvened for the incredibly compelling sophomore album, Circa, which was released on Cuneiform Records in September. The album is a brilliant fusion of hard and progressive Rock and expansive Jazz ideals and arrangements, representing the kind of mindset that is needed to keep Jazz thriving throughout the 21st century.
DYLAN RYAN/SAND plays at The Comet Monday, Nov. 10. Find tickets/more info here .