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Andrew Cyrille / Haitian Fascination: Route de Freres

Raul d'Gama Rose By

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To experience ecstasy without the memory of it would certainly be a travesty. Fortunately, it may now be possible to have both—to have the near-perfect memory of being in the throes of ecstasy—and it is all because of the music on Route de Frères by Andrew Cyrille and Haitian Fascination. More specifically, it is because of the character of "Jean" in the miraculous little Vodou piece which opens the album. It is the relentless and remarkable tapping of percussionists Frisner Augustin and the great Andrew Cyrille that creates a completely out-of-body experience, as if it was part of the Vodou ritual in which the song is usually sung. This is just one of the high points of the album, the experience of which—were it to be charted—might look like a printout of a rapidly beating heart on an electrocardiogram. Most of Cyrille's work might have this effect, but this album is truly extraordinary. It charts the musical sojourn of the drummer as he returns to his roots in Haiti and, metaphorically speaking, takes place en route on this "Road of the Brothers."

Cyrille's résumé is too wonderfully long to be celebrated in a 500-word review. Perhaps his most enduring legacy before this record is his contribution to Cecil Taylor's path-breaking bands of 1964 to 1975. If ever there was a rhythm colorist with the power to create the impulse to dance—like the great drummers from Big Sid Catlett through Max Roach, Elvin Jones and Brian Blade—Cyrille is it. It is a pity that being associated with the 1960s avant-garde movement in the musical arts has somewhat marginalized his contribution to music. Those who feel this way ought to recall his fine work with Coleman Hawkins.

At any rate, this album is sure to change all that. Cyrille is a musician who feels the pulse of music in his blood and in his bones. His body then translates this into vibrations and impulses that are transmitted through his arms, which move in wide arcs as he creates whorls of florid shapes and colors from his battery of drums. The geometry of this exquisite tattoo then becomes the central rhythmic palette of the music that is being played, and Cyrille goes on to make beautiful dancing shapes that resemble arcs and parabolas. Moreover, as he inhabits the spectral fourth dimension, he is apt to make music in the shape of rhombuses and colorful flashy orbs, created by arms propelled as if by French curves as well.

The drummer is joined by superb cohorts, and that makes all the difference in charting a course for this album from good to great. In a scenario reminiscent of the memorable piano-less ensembles of Sonny Rollins, this group is often fronted by the superb melodicism of baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett ("Spirit Music"), the slyly beautiful work of guitarist Alix Pascal ("Sankofa") and, throughout the recording, the absolutely magnificent bassist Lisle Atkinson.

Track Listing: Marinet; Deblozay; Hope Springs Eternal; Isaura; Route de Freres Part 1: Hills of Anjubeau; Route de Freres Part 2: Memories of Port au Prince Afternoons; Route de Freres Part 3: Manhattan Swing; C'mon Baby; Sankofa; Spirit Music; Mais; Ti Kawol.

Personnel: Andrew Cyrille: drums; Hamiet Bluiett: baritone saxophone; Lisle Atkinson: bass; Alix Pascal: acoustic guitar; Frisner Augustin: percussion, vocals.

Title: Route de Freres | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: TUM Records


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