Lebroba (ECM)

Andrew Cyrille

Released November 2018

Jazziz Critics’ Picks 2019






Andrew Cyrille’s title Lebroba is a contraction of Leland, Brooklyn and Baltimore, birthplaces of the protagonists of an album bringing together three of creative music’s independent thinkers.  Each of them made his first ECM appearance long ago: drummer Andrew Cyrille on Marion Brown’s Afternoon of a Georgia Faun (1970), trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith on his own classic Divine Love (1978), and guitarist Bill Frisell on Eberhard Weber’s Fluid Rustle (1979); these are, of course, players of enduring influence.  Frisell contributed to Cyrille’s previous ECM disc The Declaration of Musical Independence, but Lebroba marks a first-time meeting for the guitarist and Wadada Leo Smith.  A generous leader, Cyrille gives plenty of room to his cohorts, and all three musicians bring in compositions, with “Turiya”, Wadada’s elegant dedication to Alice Coltrane, unfurling slowly over its 17-minute duration.  In his own pieces, including the title track and the closing “Pretty Beauty”, Cyrille rarely puts the focus on the drums, preferring to play melodically and interactively, sensitive to pitch and to space.  There are references to West African music and the blues as well as the history of jazz drumming, but Cyrille’s priority today is an elliptical style in which meter is implied rather than stated.

Track Listing:

1. Worried Woman (Bill Frisell) 07:35

2. Turiya: Alice Coltrane Meditations and Dreams Love (Wadada Leo Smith) 17:24

3. Lebroba (Andrew Cyrille) 05:44

4. TGD (Andrew Cyrille, Bill Frisell, Wadada Leo Smith) 05:17

5. Pretty Beauty (Andrew Cyrille) 06:24


Andrew Cyrille: drums

Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet

Bill Frisell: guitar

Recorded July, 2017, at Reservoir Studios, New York

Produced by Sun Chung

Engineer: Rick Kwan

Design: Sascha Kleis


Free-jazz drumming icon Andrew Cyrille shows no sign of slowing down. At 79, he remains as wide open to the melodic possibilities of his instrument as he was on 1969’s What About? and 1974’s Dialogue Of The Drums with Milford Graves. On his second ECM release, Cyrille again is paired with the endlessly inventive guitarist and fellow melodicist Bill Frisell. Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith rounds out this remarkably creative and empathetic triumvirate.

Frisell’s lonesome blues “Worried Woman” has guitar and trumpet exchanging bold melodic nuggets as Cyrille traverses the kit with a light, interactive touch that creates a loosely swinging pulse. Frisell’s sped-up looping spreads pixie dust on this haunting opener. Smith’s dramatic dedication to Alice Coltrane, “Turiya (Alice Coltrane Meditations And Dreams: Love),” unfolds gradually over four movements with Cyrille nimbly shifting from open-ended rubato playing to West African polyrhythms and an earthy blues shuffle. His title track is a minor blues that features Frisell’s guitar swimming in echo and Smith’s muted trumpet alternately issuing plaintive long tones and buzzing like a swarm of bees.

Cyrille’s closer, “Pretty Beauty,” a tune as tender and affecting as Miles Davis’ “Flamenco Sketches” or Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie No. 1,” is underscored by the drummer’s alluring brushwork and Frisell’s patient chording, which highlights Smith’s beautiful lyricism on muted trumpet. Rather than fronting the proceedings by flaunting his chops, Cyrille underscores Lebroba with a combination of grace, zen-like restraint and authority.

Bill Milkowski (DownBeat)