Roy Haynes is an astonishingly prolific drummer who has played on more albums than most people will ever own in their entire life. Given his demand as a sideman, it comes as no surprise that his work as a leader has been relatively sparse. Cymbalism is one of the few projects he helmed in the sixties and features players young enough to be malleable and yet bring something new to the table. Like Haynes, both pianist Ronnie Mathews and saxophonist Frank Strozier were apt pupils of the current scene, yet worked hard to develop their own style of playing and composition; both recorded ambitious first records as leaders around the time of this session. Strozier may wear his Charlie Parker and Jackie McLean influences on his sleeve, but he's also a dangerous flautist. Mathews, on the other hand, has a more keen sense of melody and a playing style that sounds a lot like McCoy Tyner. Haynes, as to be expected, runs through an alphabet of drumming replete with snappy fills and limber phrases. Combined with Larry Ridley on bass, the quartet is certainly stocked with possibilities.
Cybalism is a wide-ranging work that absorbs all the influences from Haynes’ various gigs; the boppish waltz “Modette” gives way to a conventional reading of the standard “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”, quickly followed by the soul jazz “Go ‘n’ Get It!” However, this deliberate attempt to traverse multiple avenues gives the album a disjointed feel, as if there’s no central theme or idea that runs through the entire work. Haynes’ output as a leader will never equal that of his work as a sideman, but nonetheless Cymbalism is an entertaining diversion.
Roy Haynes- drums; Frank Strozier- alto saxophone, flute; Ronnie
Matthews- piano; Larry Ridley- bass. Recorded: September 10, 1963.