Andrew Cyrille Quartet: drumming power in reserve

23rd February 2017

Title: The Declaration of Musical Independence

Label: ECM

Just in case you are not aware of him, Cyrille is a top class avant-jazz drummer. In fact, during the 80s and 90s, no-one could touch the guy in terms of his art. Such is the man’s energy, his style and finesse. He also has the knack of informing you that he could quite easily demolish the studio/auditorium if he pleases but, well, he was brought up to be better behaved than that so he chooses not to. The potential remains with him, no-matter what he does, though. He worked with greats such as Roland Kirk. Coleman Hawkins and Roland Hanna as well as Cecil Taylor. He lead his own group, Maono and played with the Group.

I list a part of the great man’s history because it’s a bit of surprise that this new album is his first for the ECM label. But what a line-up to do it with! If you’re going to pick a guitarist to work with then let’s go for Bill Frisell, eh? Let’s start at the top. In addition, the group features keyboardist Richard Teitelbaum and bassist Ben Street.

In terms of content, the CD begins with a John Coltrane piece, Coltrane Time, which allows Cyrille to be wonderfully angular and interpretive yet relaxed and easy on the ears, especially during his own attractive solo.

On Sanctuary, Cyrille is almost playful in his attentions. This is his “Let’s play house!” mode because he proceeds to fill the space of this track with percussive furniture of different types and tones, fooling the ear – because of his quick hands – into feeling that there is more solid structure on the soundstage than there really is with the following track, Say is about the opposite, space, thought, consideration and feel. It’s an intuitive track and flows with careful ease.

A lovely album. Cyrille’s first, blimey what took him so long!? Now he’s here, I hope ECM lock him in the studio and put him to work.