The Declaration of Musical Independence is the ECM debut as the leader of his own outfit for acclaimed avant-jazz drum veteran Andrew Cyrille. Here, the drummer has brought along a formidable crew of musicians, such as guitarist Bill Frisell, keyboard player Richard Teitelbaum, and bassist Ben Street, with the full quartet covering a wealth of styles sure to please any jazz aficionado.
Kicking off with "Coltrane Time", the quartet gets underway with some rumbling rhythms as Frisell's sinewy, jagged lines cut through the arrangement in daring fashion. Both "Kaddish" and "Sanctuary" offer more meditative, expansive soundscapes, while Cyrille's busy stick work and Street's double bass underpin the tranquil jazz of "Say", a really lovely piece also complemented by Teitelbaum's majestic piano chords and Frisell's coloring. The drummer again lets his sticks do the talking on the busy, quirky "Dazzling (Percchordally Yours)", and "Herky Jerky" lives up to its name, a near improv piece with some dramatic interplay between the musicians, especially the piano and guitar. True avant-garde fans will love all the various sounds and noodling on "Manfred", the leader banging on every percussive bit at his disposal while Street navigates his bass strings and Frisell draws upon some guitar blips & bleeps. Perhaps the most emotional piece here is the closer "Song For Andrew No. 1", which contains some moody melodies from Frisell and a wealth of tricky drum patterns courtesy of Cyrille.
Not an instantly gratifying listen but one that reveals its pleasures over time, The Declaration of Musical Independence contains some stellar musicianship and arrangements that float that fine line between avant-garde and traditional jazz. Atmosphere galore, stark melodies, and intricate passages make for an album well worth seeking out, and another winner from the folks over at ECM Records.
1) Coltrane Time
5) Dazzling (Percchordally Yours)
6) Herky Jerky
9) Song For Andrew No. 1