Andrew Cyrille, "The Declaration of Musical Independence" (ECM)
This is a very disappointing record. That's because one look at the personnel on the disc leads you to expect something consistently extraordinary.
And it is most definitely not that.
The great free, avant-garde drummer has Bill Frissell as his guitarist, Richard Teitelbaum playing synthesizer and keyboards and Ben Street playing bass. There are some great things here -- notably Bill Frisell's composition "Kaddish." But these free, long form improvisations leave so many empty spaces that much of the music seems to fall in on itself ("Sanctuary" for instance.) I think musicians as creative as Cyrille and Bill Frisell could imagine music far more urgent and less atomized than this. Even Ben Young's notes admit that "Cycles of gesture on the record are all elongated beyond heart rate, slower than breathing ... . It's as though atmospheric factors are models, rather than the pulsing spirit of humankind."
Which is another way of saying that a lot of this music rejects the human body and the rhythmic comfort we find from its essential pulses.
So it's intermittently interesting and occasionally even more than that but it's also arid and lunar but without any cosmic sense of wonder at all. These players -- especially the drummer and guitarist- - are usually much more interesting than this.
2 1/2 stars (out of four)