Andrew Cyrille’s album The News carries forward the story from The Declaration of Musical Independence, the 2014 ECM recording described by Down Beat as “an unabashed exploration into time, pulse space and atmosphere…ambitious yet simple, rich yet stripped-down, challenging yet infinitely satisfying.” The New York Times cited the album as evidence of a “late career renaissance” for the drummer.
A force in improvisation for more than sixty years, Cyrille has played across the landscape of jazz from Coleman Hawkins’s The Hawk Relaxes to Cecil Taylor’s Unit Structures, led his own bands, and worked extensively with Milford Graves, Walt Dickerson, David Murray, Muhal Richard Abrams, Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman and many, many more. His first ECM appearance was on 1970’s Afternoon of a Georgia Faun, Marion Brown’s album with Chick Corea, Anthony Braxton, Bennie Maupin and Jeanne Lee. Half a century later Cyrille appeared with his Lebroba trio with Wadada Leo Smith and Bill Frisell at Lincoln Center’s 50th birthday tribute to the label.
For The News, recorded at Sound on Sound Studio in New Jersey in August 2019, David Virelles was drafted as last-minute replacement for old associate Richard Teitelbaum, whose involvement had been ruled out by ill-health. (Virelles had previously played with Cyrille and Ben Street in contexts including the group Continuum.) Gently guiding from the drums, Cyrille gives his revised line-up plenty of freedom while also shaping, subtly, the group’s sonic identity with his flowing sense of pulse.
The title track “The News” revisits a conceptual piece that Andrew first recorded on a solo percussion album, The Loop, made for the Italian Ictus label in the late 1970s. Here a newspaper is placed over the snare drum and toms and played with brushes. In the quartet version, Frisell, Virelles and Street all impressionistically extend its rustling, whispering textures on their own instruments.
“Leaving East of Java” is a tune by AACM-associated pianist Adegoke Steve Colson. Cyrille has previously played it both with its composer and with the group Trio 3 with Oliver Lake and Reggie Workman. Cyrille’s “With You In Mind” is also a piece that has gone through diverse interpretations: there are earlier recorded interpretations in trio with Hentry Grimes and Bill McHenry and in duo with Greg Osby. Here the music takes off from Andrew’s unaccompanied spoken word introduction with the band amplifying its sentiments, with a particularly tender guitar solo from Bill Frisell.
The guitarist has three tunes here “Mountain”, “Baby” and “Go Happy Lucky”, the last of which, as an abstracted blues, has a distant kinship with Duke Ellington’s “Happy Go Lucky Local.” Frisell has recorded extensively for ECM, from early leader dates such as In Line and Rambler to the recent duet projects Small Town and Epistrophy with Thomas Morgan. Along the way there has also been a long association with Paul Motian and Joe Lovano documented on recordings from Psalm (1981) to Time and Time Again (2006). Bill has also contributed to other recordings of enduring significance including Paul Bley’s Fragments, Kenny Wheeler’s Angel Song, Marc Johnson’s Bass Desires, Jan Garbarek’s Paths, Prints and Gavin Bryars’s After the Requiem.
David Virelles. who contributes the tune “Incienso” to the programme and shares composer credits with Cyrille on the exploratory “Dance of the Nuances”, first appeared on ECM with Chris Potter in 2011. Albums with Tomasz Stanko followed (Wisława, December Avenue) as well as Virelles’s own recordings Mbókò, Antenna and Gnosis.
Ben Street and Andrew Cyrille have collaborated in contexts including the trio of Danish pianist Søren Kjærgaard. The bassist’s ECM credits include albums with the Billy Hart Quartet (All Our Reasons, One Is The Other) the Ethan Iverson/Tom Harrell Quartet (Common Practice), and the Aaron Parks Trio (Find The Way).