May 1998

Walt Dickerson/Sirone/Andrew Cyrille
Life Rays
Soul Note

This writer just caught up with Dickerson, whose subtle conception escaped my awareness until writing this review forced me to dig in and listen. His sound is obviously unique- and Nat Hentoff's notes explain how he alters his mallets to get his softer timbre and greater speed-but I never quite got on his wavelength before. His conception of melodic/percussive development is really his own. He may at times sound impressionistic, as when he creates such long shimmering lines that they cease to be heard as lines and become a sonic waterfall, but it's not just a pretty thing. His "Good Relationship" reminds me of Andrew Hill's uneasy writing.

Since I've just caught on, I don't know how much of the success here is attributable to the presence of Sirone and Andrew Cyrille. The context calls for the utmost in understatement and controlled passion, and even staunch fans of these two may be surprised at how well they answer the call.

Originally published in May 1998
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1 Comment

  • Nov 15, 2014 at 12:58PM larrykoen

    Regarding "how much of the success here is attributable to the presence of Sirone and Andrew Cyrille":

    Cyrille worked as a sideman on eight Dickerson recordings. For details, see http://www.discogs.com/artist/252264-Andrew-Cyrille?query=dickerson or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Cyrille#As_sideman. His two initial appearances on record, in 1961, were with Dickerson (THIS IS WALT DICKERSON!) and Coleman Hawkins.

    Dickerson evidently had skill as a talent scout. He used Andrew Hill as a sideman in one of the latter's first two appearances on record, in 1962, This recording, TO MY QUEEN, also features Andrew Cyrille, a percussionist of extraordinary skill and subtlety. In that regard, he is a perfect match for Walt Dickerson.

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