Album review

Andrew Cyrille Quartet – ‘The News’

Andrew Cyrille Quartet – The News

(ECM 3520703. CD review by Jon Turney)

This superb follow up to the great drummer Andrew Cyrille’s 2016 quartet release The Declaration of Musical Independence reunites him with bassist Ben Street and Bill Frisell on guitar. The wild card is David Virelles on piano, who brings a welcome, lushly dark sonority to the session.

Thus, Frisell’s Mountain, one of three compositions he contributes, has a characteristically sunny air, until the pianist engineers a change in the weather from the lower end of the keyboard. Here, as elsewhere, he has more of a taste for abstraction than the guitarist displays these days, and for all Frisell’s gift for taking off at a tangent it is the piano that furnishes more unexpected moments.

The two are beautifully complementary, though. The possibility of piano and guitar blurring into one another probably doesn’t arise with players of this class. In any case the pair are rarely playing at the same time. Most of the record is a series of trio episodes, but Frisell and Virelles each offer a mutually sympathetic lyricism that floats over the drummer’s lightly embroidered cushion of cymbal flares, snare taps and brushed whispers.

Cyrille plays with a kind of uninhibited restraint. His constantly shifting, needle sharp backdrop imparts a feeling he could do anything at any time, but what he chooses is always perfectly judged. The title track is an old piece of his where the percussive sound comes from brushes on newspaper, a subtlety in keeping with his approach throughout.

It’s a quietly brilliant set. Street provides the steady support that allows Cyrille to roam free, while the drummer and pianist’s occasionally astringent insistence gives a flavour sometimes missing from Frisell’s own recordings, where one can occasionally feel overwhelmed by the unrelenting good humour. All four caress melody gently when called for, then shift easily into freer playing that maintains the measured, slowly unfolding pace of the session.

Late work from an old master, and a record to pass to any drummers you may come across who could do with learning that less is more.

Jon Turney writes about jazz, and other things, from Bristol.   Twitter: https://twitter.com/jonWturney

The News is released on 27 August 2021. UK Distribution by Proper

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