A debut album naturally accrues certain expectations; originality and modernity at least; innovation and a fair amount of excitement to be sure. In the case of Andrew Cyrille and Haitian Fascination, these expectations are heightened considerably by a sense of restless anticipation upon review of his career resume, that of baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett, and bassist Lisle Atkinson.
|Drummer Andrew Cyrille|
Hamiet Bluiett has worked with the incomparable bassist Charles Mingus, saxophonist Sam Rivers, Soul Queen Aretha Franklin, R&B giant Marvin Gaye, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand), and is co-founder of the respected World Saxophone Quartet.
|Bassist Lisle Atkinson|
Intended or not, this "debut" album possesses an undeniable, fascinating subtitle that is as explicit as its theme, "Road of the Brothers." It is indeed, also a captivating representative of a "Road Traversed By Giants."
|Baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett|
Since there is such inherent richness about Haitian music on the whole, having its expressions accented with the dynamism, spontaneity, and innovation of the jazz idiom, opens several appealing musical possibilities in terms of versatility, stylistic range, imagination, lyricism and energy. A sense of urgency is evident in the combined lyricism of Blueitt's saxophone and Alix Pascal's acoustic guitar (Deblozay) remonstrating "Haitians to speak out their frustrations against the chaotic situation in Haiti." The hope being that this beautiful, wounded country will "prosper in all aspects of its humanity" (Hope Springs Eternal).
Even in chaos and hopelessness, or better, in spite of these debilitating conditions, love in its deepest form manages to exist and blossom, and it flows through the stylistic range of Pascal's guitar (Isaura), echoing the sensual tone of Brazil's legendary guitarist Laurindo Almeida, and the seductive majesty of Haitian classical guitarist Frantz Casseus.
|Guitarist Alix Pascal|
What appears on the surface, to be an individualistic cultural look backward, becomes instead a conscious search for life's landmarks and guideposts (Route de Freres, Part 1 - Hills of Anjubeau); with bouts of nostalgia resurfacing from deeply formed childhood memories (Route de Freres, Part 2 - Memories of Port-au-Prince Afternoons); finding exhilarating surprises in the cultural gap between an island nation and a continent, over which Cyrille constructs a musical bridge (Route de Freres, Part 3 - Manhattan Swing), running counter to the predominant theory that "you can't go home again." In the triptych, Cyrille's true genius extends backward from his versatile drums, through the wondering lens of a seven-year-old, free of polluting biases, to produce music that, at its core is so pristinely, wonderfully uncontaminated, as to be almost perfect. Essentially, Cyrille succeeds in clearing a 'spirit path' for his accompanying players to add their own experiences and remembrances that imbue the music with an added richness of jazz and authentic Haitian rhythms, that is hard to describe.
|Drummer/percussionist Frisner Augustin|
Track Listing: Marinet; Deblozay; Hope Springs Eternal; Isaura; Route de Freres, Part 1 - Hills of Anjubeau; Route de Freres, Part 2 - Memories of Port-au-Prince Afternoons; Route de Freres, Part 3 - Manhattan Swing); C'mon Baby; Sankofa; Spirit Music; Mais (Percussion Duo); Ti Kawol.
Recorded by Robert Musso at Clinton Studios, New York City
Assistant Engineer: Justin Kessler
Mixed and Mastered by Henrik Otto Donner, Esa Santonen and Janne Malen at DER in Tammisaari, Finland
Produced by Petri Haussila
Andrew Cyrille uses Ludwig drums and Zildjian cymbals.