Andrew Cyrille: Lebroba (ECM)

Review of a trio album led by the drummer and featuring Wadada Leo Smith and Bill Frisell

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Cover of Andrew Cyrille album Lebroba

It is profoundly satisfying to hear drummer Andrew Cyrille—who helped shepherd the tornado of Cecil Taylor through Unit Structures, among many others, more than 50 years ago—now in regal equipoise with a pair of esteemed elder peers, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and guitarist Bill Frisell. Lebroba relaxes you like a landscape painting, allowing your senses to settle easily over the whole, with the opportunity always available to be stimulated by the details.

In that sense, the album’s quintessential song is Smith’s “Turiya: Alice Coltrane Meditations and Dreams: Love,” a 17-minute walkabout through a series of tone poems and snippets. In purely musical terms, it bears scant resemblance to Alice Coltrane’s music, but its animating principles of patience, calm self-assurance, and absence of ego and pretension form an underlying connection. There are two compositions from Cyrille. The title song is a minimalist blues, with Frisell’s quavering guitar given further drama via Smith’s muted-trumpet meditations and Cyrille’s melodic sketches, as sparse and pertinent as charcoal on paper. “Pretty Beauty” is a twinkling ballad anchored by Smith’s plaintive brass, enveloped in the comfort of Frisell’s gentle strum and the rustle of Cyrille’s cymbals.

Frisell’s songwriting contribution is also a blues: the opener, “Worried Woman,” which originally appeared on his Beautiful Dreamers disc eight years ago in another bass-less trio. Swapping in Smith’s trumpet for Eyvind Kang’s violin provides a more sinuous groove, and with Cyrille lightly peppering the snare, the group escalates into a smolder, albeit a resolutely delicate one. That leaves “TGD,” a group improvisation more classically “free” and less restrained in its expression, with some electronics added for good measure. Even here, however, Cyrille’s control of the rhythmic rudder is sage, nuanced, and unmistakable.

Preview, buy or download Lebroba on Amazon!