Andrew Cyrille, drums, New Africa House Theater, 180 Infirmary Way, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Free, suggested donation ($15) at the door. Presented in collaboration with Augusta Savage Gallery, UMass.
Born in 1939, Cyrille’s long and distinguished career began with his studies at Julliard and the Hartnett school in New York and privately with drummer Philly Joe Jones. His early 20s were spent with artists such as Mary Lou Williams, Coleman Hawkins, Kenny Dorham, Freddie Hubbard, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Beginning in 1964, he spent 11 years working with Cecil Taylor, appearing on the 1966 classic Unit Structures and much of Taylor’s output in the 60s and 70s.
Still a prolific and indefatigable composer and performer, Cyrille released The Declaration of Musical Independence with Bill Frisell, Richard Teitelbaum, and Ben Street on ECM records in 2017, and in 2018 was joined by Frisell and Wadada Leo Smith for the expansive Lebroba. Cyrille has toured and performed throughout North America, Europe, Africa, and the former USSR. He formed Haitian Fascination with Haitian percussionist Frisner Augustin and guitarist Alix Pascal, and for over 27 years has been a member of TRIO3, featuring Oliver Lake and Reggie Workman. He leads his own groups in various formations and performs in duo, trio and larger configurations with luminaries such as Archie Shepp, Roswell Rudd, Marilyn Crispell, Irene Schweizer, Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano, Jason Moran, Vijay Iyer, David Virelles, Bill McHenry, Henry Grimes, William Parker, Soren Kjaergaard, and others. In addition to Andrew Cyrille’s 21st Century Big Band Unlimited, his most recent big band performance was with Mark Masters’ American Jazz Institute Ensemble.
Cyrille is a Guggenheim Fellow in Composition (1999). Other notable achievements include three National Endowment for the Arts grants for performance and composition, two Meet the Composer/ AT&T- Rockefeller Foundation grants, an Arts International Award to perform with his quintet in Accra and around West Africa, and two ASCAP awards for meritorious achievement in percussion composition. He is currently on faculty at the New School for Social Research in New York City.
In a June review of his 8-set performance at the New York City Vision Festival, where he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award, Rolling Stone characterized the nearly-80-year-old Cyrille as “tirelessly engaged, reveling in the act of listening and responding.” Now, 60 years into his career, the dedicated improviser and composer is still active at the vanguard of music.