Route de Frères
Like fellow octogenarian Wadada Leo Smith, drummer-composer Andrew Cyrille remains a creative powerhouse in the jazz world, his projects in recent years reaping rave reviews. While much of his music is personal — the “Bro” in his project LeBroBa, with Wadada and Bill Frisell, stood for his hometown of Brooklyn — Cyrille’s 2011 release Route de Frères (TUM) was based on a particular slice of his biography, namely, his Haitian roots. Assembling a quintet under the flag Haitian Fascination, Cyrille recorded a collection of songs reflecting his sense memories of his parents’ homeland, which he first visited at the age of 7. The drummer’s three-part title suite takes its name from an actual street, the Route de Frères, or “Road of the Brothers,” in the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The suite’s second part, “Memories of Port-au-Prince Afternoons,” included here, contains Cyrille’s impressions of the bustling city streets, with its mixture of people, cars and animals, a panoply of color and movement. As he relates in the album notes, Cyrille would go out and play with his friends in the morning until his aunt called him back in, made him change into nice clothes and then promenade along the main stem with her, as was the town’s custom. A relaxed and pleasant ambience, as well as the excitement of a wide-eyed second-grader from Bedford-Stuyvesant, is represented by the ambling baritone saxophone of Hamiett Bluiett, which contrasts with the piquant acoustic fingerpicking of guitarist Alix Pascal. The two soloists are supported by Lisle Atkinson’s easy-strolling bass, Cyrille’s laid-back but continually moving rhythmic patter and Frisner Augustin’s light-stepping hand drums. It’s a brief and evocative sketch of a time and place that obviously left a deep impression on the drummer.