Andrew Cyrille & Marc Ribot
The story of free jazz begins with Andrew Cyrille, but as he’s shown through an artistry that has never stopped growing and evolving since the late fifties, it’s a story that never ends.
In 1964, after learning the drums from Philly Joe Jones and at Juilliard—while already playing with the likes of Mary Lou Williams and Coleman Hawkins—Cyrille began the eleven-year stint with pianist Cecil Taylor that would define not only his own career, but the scope of what jazz could say, as if tongues of flame had descended from beyond the firmament of bop and swing. They kept speaking through Cyrille, a player in whom prowess and freedom coexist with rare ease, over the ensuing decades, in collaborations with Milford Graves, Peter Brötzmann, and too many other experimental and jazz icons to name.
“Time and again, the drummer deployed finely honed musical logic in the service of collaborative improvisational magic,” Rolling Stone wrote when Cyrille received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Vision Festival in 2019. “Mr. Cyrille’s unassuming genius was hardly a secret to anyone present.”
Also present at that festival was Marc Ribot, the jazz, rock, and experimental guitarist famed for definitive work with the likes of Tom Waits, John Zorn, and other sentinels on the border of avant-garde and popular music. Though Cyrille and Ribot have appeared together on records and stages, in Dave Douglas’s Metamorphosis project and Sam Amidon’s band of folk explorers, these two extraordinary talents have never performed as a duo. That changes at Big Ears, when Cyrille and Ribot come together to span two generations of free but refined music.