There is no denying the significance of Andrew Cyrille's oft-cited association with Cecil Taylor
, not to mention his collaborations with other avant-garde luminaries such as Walt Dickerson
, Ahmed Abdul-Malik
and Marion Brown
. However, such reductive narratives tend to overlook Cyrille's own, fairly extensive output as a leader, beginning with What About?
(BYG Actuel, 1971). Whilst there have sometimes been long gaps between his records, the Brooklyn-born drummer has struck a rich vein of form in his autumnal years on ECM, with The Declaration of Musical Independence
(ECM, 2016) and Lebroba
(ECM, 2018) highlighting a deeply felt lyricism. The News,
his third release on Manfred Eicher's label, is no exception.
A constant thread on all three releases has been the presence of Bill Frisell
, who once again leaves an indelible mark on the music. The guitarist contributes three compositions, some beautifully understated melodicism and his trademark soundscaping. Frisell leads from the front on "Mountain," a handsome pastoral of gently aching lyricism. Pianist David Virelles
counters with darker hues at the lower end of the piano's range before Frisell's bright melody returns like a ray of sunlight splitting dark clouds. Ben Street
is a subtle presence throughout, while Cyrille's chattering cymbals and pattering fills provide constant pulse and animation.
Cyrille revisits Adegoke Steve Colson
's "Leaving East of Java," having previously recorded the tune with long-standing trio partners Reggie Workman
and Oliver Lake
(Passin' Thru Records, 2000). Street's four-note bass ostinato marks a turning point from the chamber- esque unison melody of the intro towards looser improvisational pastures. Cyrille and Street gradually ratchet up the rhythmic intensity as Virelles on piano, and a pedal-tethered Frisell dovetail freely. Whether pursuing collective improvisation or playing in more orthodox vein, as on Frisell's sprightly, Thelonious Monk
-esque blues "Go Happy Lucky," the quartet's chemistry seems as effortless as it fruitful.
The title trackone of three compositions by the leaderis the session's most free-form. Cyrille works his brushes hard against scurrying piano, restless pizzicato guitar, bowed bass and organ sustain. The rustling of paper at the end replicates the intro to the original version of an impressionistic piece that Cyrille first recorded on the solo album The Loop,
(Ictus, 1978). Virelles' "Incienso," by contrast, is a graceful, slow-motion waltz. The Cuban keyboardist shares the writing credits with Cyrille on "Dance of the Nuances," an exploratory amalgam of synthesized effects, darkly atmospheric piano and probing drums.
Frisell is at his most direct and beguiling on the tender ballad "Baby," his caressing melody embedded upon softly voiced organ, bass and Cyrille's ever-sympathetic brushes. Cyrille's love poem "With You in Mind" begins with affecting words of dedication, but no less poetic is the quartet's responsespare yet beautifully lyrical.
Cyrille is the dynamo that drives this quartet with his less-is-more vocabulary. His embrace of space, his nuanced choices of texture, tone and weight of pulse draw only the essential from Frisell, Street and Virelles. Not one note or sound from this most intuitive of quartets seems excessive. A quietly seductive offering of real charm and deceptive depth.
Mountain; Leaving East of Java; Go Happy Lucky; The News; Incienso; Baby; Dance of the Nuances; With You in Mind.