This is Andrew Cyrille’s album – in that he’s the leader, his name is at the top, but the legendary jazz drummer is working here with two other stalwarts of the ECM label, Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet) and Bill Frisell (guitar). It’s truly a trio album and magic happens here – it being the first time all three have worked together, though there have been pairings, Wadada and Frissell have both worked with Cyrille independently. Here it’s very much about ‘the gang’ – each of the players bringing compositions to the album, Cyrille leaving so much space, in particular on his own tunes, for the late-night-waft of Smith’s trumpet and the stinging wash of Uncle Bill’s guitar.
The album’s title too – Lebroba – is a composite of the trio’s birth places, taking Leland, Brooklyn and Baltimore into account and coining a new ‘place’; the space for this music to dwell.
We open with a typical Frisell blues – Worried Woman (it’s from one of Frisell’s previous solo outings) and straight away you are taken towards the music Miles Davis was making in the late 1980s – something about the way Frisell’s guitar and Smith’s trumpet combine, in the way that Miles was duelling and duetting with the likes of John Scofield and John McLaughlin.
Painterly in his approach, Andrew Cyrille dabs and dobs in spaces on the album’s 17-minute centrepiece, Turiya, a tribute of sorts to Alice Coltrane, which evokes her spirit more than her actual playing. Frisell’s spidery playing creeps down the spine of this Wadada tune, whereas on the title track it’s about the cohesion of these three voices, creeping along within the song in unison – Cyrille providing glimpses of a backbeat only, he’s more a percussionist at the drumset than he is a ‘drummer’ – and it further enhances the room to move by creating this bass-less trio. Smith and Frisell take turns moving the songs in various directions, swapping lead and underpinning parts.
Cyrille’s closer, Pretty Beauty, is midnight melodic joy – the trumpet making the opening statement but Frisell’s guitar hiding in underneath gives the song a feel very similar to many of the majestic ballad-moments on his own recent solo outings.
Any name could be at the top of this album. The fact that all three names are on it is the clue that you’re in for something very special. A nocturnal delight of unstructured but unmessy jazz noises, a jazz-noir of sorts. The proof is in the listening. Everything here is gorgeous, subtle, sublime.