Oct 24, 2021
A force in improvisation for more than sixty years, Andrew 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.
For The News, recorded at Sound on Sound Studio for ECM Records 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 (Teitelbaum has since passed away). Virelles had previously played with Cyrille and bassist 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. Adding guitarist Bill Frisell, who has recorded with Andrew since 2016, there emerges a daunting quartet.
Frisell is a veteran of many of ECM’s seminal recordings, and his work here makes it clear why. His playing is fluid, almost languid at times and there is no musical situation that he doesn’t maker better with his harmonic choices. This gives Cyrille the room he craves to add the rhythmic interjections that make him so unique. Street is there, as Andrew says in our conversation because “he watches their back” and ensures things move along as needed. The talented Virelles continues to show that his reputation as one of the top pianists around is well deserved.
Podcast 856 is the first part of my two-part conversation with Andrew Cyrille. In this first part, Andrew and I discuss the new album, why he chose to record a number of tunes he has previously recorded but in different arrangements, and why each member of the band was so important to the making of The News. Musical selections from the album include the title track, “The News.”
Andrew then leads us through the events that he believes made him the musician today. On this Podcast we talk about his formative years, growing up in Brooklyn, and becoming a drummer. Podcast 857 later this week will pick up with his association with Cecil Taylor, and discuss a new album that is forthcoming with Enrico Rava paying tribute to his friend and bandmate for eleven years.