Andrew Cyrille – Lebroba
(ECM Records – ECM 2589. CD Review by Jane Mann)
Lebroba is the new CD from American drummer Andrew Cyrille, most well-known to British jazz fans for his 12 years with free jazz pioneer pianist Cecil Taylor. Here he is joined by American guitarist Bill Frisell, who played on Cyrille’s 2016 CD, also for ECM, The Declaration of Musical Independence. The third member of the trio is avant-garde trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, best known for his work with Anthony Braxton, whom Cyrille has known since the 1970s.
It’s an unusual line-up, but it works well – their instruments so different in timbre and range, but pleasing in combination. They all have diverse musical backgrounds and each can draw on many traditions. Their collective musical palette is therefore vast. Cyrille and Smith in their younger days could be wild and free, but there is no storming or squalling. Here, they play with great delicacy. Frisell is the fitting third member of the trio. There are plenty of his odd but lovely harmonies, electronic effects and gentle folk overtones. Smith’s far-away sounding melodic lines sit nicely with Frisell’s unfussy playing, the two of them occasionally in unison, or in pleasing harmony. Cyrille’s percussion work is fascinating. The range of sound is surprising, from gentle taps, like a wooden spoon being knocked on the rim of a mixing bowl, to drum beats like the sound of a distant marching band blowing in through a briefly opened window. There is also elegant, brushy cymbal.
The music is fragmented yet lyrical, and full of space. The peregrinations of the three musicians together create a sort of ambient free jazz, though only one track actually feels like free improvisation – TGD, attributed to all three musicians. Two other tracks are composed by Cyrille, one by Frisell and the longest piece by Smith, dedicated to Alice Coltrane.
The title track Lebroba refers to the towns where the three were born – Smith in Leland Mississippi, Cyrille in Brooklyn, New York, and Frisell in Baltimore, Maryland – and those place names are the unsung lyrics, and rhythmic backdrop to this piece.
My favourite is the last tune, Pretty Beauty. It has a melancholy but pretty melody played with poignancy by muted Smith, Frisell accompanying with chords, Cyrille all the while creating a gentle percussion soundscape behind.
Lebroba is a fine album which repays repeated listening. Cyrille is quoted as saying: “I didn’t want to play all the time – I wanted to play rhythms with spaces between them, and to play melodically, in relation what they were doing… and like a fibrillating heart.” Cyrille does just that, with this thoughtful and inventive trio.
Wadada Leo Smith – trumpet
Bill Frisell – guitar
Andrew Cyrille – drums
Worried Woman (Bill Frisell)
Turiya: Alice Coltrane Meditations and Dreams: Love (Wadada Leo Smith)
Lebroba (Andrew Cyrille)
TGD (Andrew Cyrille, Wadada Leo Smith, Bill Frisell)
Pretty Beauty (Andrew Cyrille)
Categories: CD review