Andrew Cyrille Quartet: The Declaration of Musical Independence (ECM 2430)

The Declaration of Musical Independence

Andrew Cyrille Quartet
The Declaration of Musical Independence

Bill Frisell guitar
Richard Teitelbaum synthesizer, piano
Ben Street double bass
Andrew Cyrille drums, percussion
Recorded July 2014 at Brooklyn Recording
Engineer: Rick Kwan
Mixing engineer: Rick Kwan
Produced by Sun Chung
Release date: September 23, 2016

The Declaration of Musical Independence is more than drummer Andrew Cyrille’s ECM leader debut. It’s a veritable document thrown into the living waters of jazz history. Eschewing expectations by means of the very kit that courts them, he welcomes guitarist Bill Frisell, keyboardist Richard Teitelbaum, and bassist Ben Street for a faithful reading of his emergent articles.

Article 1: Centeredness is a Way of Life

John Coltrane’s “Coltrane Time” is match-lit helium in slow motion, treating the core as spinal. Cyrille sets the stage with his playful take on this Trane rhythm, threading it like a bead along invisible wire. Invisible, that is, until Frisell’s distortions flower like a tree of nerve impulses drawn with an anatomist’s attention to detail. It’s a feeling carried over in the guitarist’s own “Kaddish,” which by quiet dint turns brainwaves into melody.

Article 2: Understanding the Moment Means Understanding Each Other

This tenet is unquenchably expressed in three freer excursions. Where “Sanctuary” and “Manfred” look simultaneously within and without in order to braid connections of molecular value, “Dazzling (Percchordally Yours)” takes Cyrille’s own chordal suggestions as cues for spontaneous composition. Here, Teitelbaum’s textural approach to the synthesizer possesses the studio like a ghost in search of bodies through which to voice messages from some great beyond, only to end up the other way around: with instruments piercing its translucent skin by grace of sonic needlepoint.

Article 3: Treat Echoes Not as Symptoms but as Causes

Ben Street’s “Say” is the album’s one dose of symmetry. A riveting combination of liquid guitar, fulcrumed bassing, and drums so anciently brushed they feel like cave drawings, it eats resonance as if survival were otherwise impossible. Teitelbaum likewise divides his own “Herky Jerky” along bipartisan lines, engendering a rougher blush of purpose.

Article 4: Look Back to Listen Forward

The remaining pieces, both by Frisell, speak to this truth most deeply. Whether in the solo dream that is “Begin” or the concluding quartet of “Song for Andrew No. 1,” a philosophy of continuity prevails, drinking air like water, and filling producer Sun Chung’s masterful cast with diurnal plaster. All of which makes for one of the profoundest statements to fall under ECM’s purview in years.

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