Music Delivery/Percussion is octogenarian and master-drummer Andrew Cyrille's third solo album and his first in decades. On it, Cyrille plays with a practiced and concerted spaciousness that conceals a surprising playfulness and wonder for a musician who has been at it for over sixty years. In addition, he also employs a patience and deliberation that only comes with those same decades of experience. He does not seem out to wow, though he certainly impresses at points. Rather, he leans on technique and development.
Most songs were composed by Cyrille, though a few are compositions by pianist Amina Claudine Myers (Jumping in the Sugar Bowl) and clarinetist John Carter (Enter from the East), both musicians of Cyrille's generation. Although Music Delivery/Percussion has a couple of crowd-pleasers, with some complex polyrhythms and head-splitting timekeeping, Cyrille rarely blows the listener away with sheer power, or walls of percuss. Rather, he explores cracks and timbres and controlled dynamics. He plays the whole notes and lets them linger. Or he lays out a rhythm, and repeats it, slowly adding embellishments, until he hits his groove. And sometimes he touches on melody. "Tambourine Cocktail" is a fine example of rhythmic development, wherein the listener can never be sure whether Cyrille is falling into or out of a complex rhythm. (I am not sure Cyrille knows in the moment, either, which adds to a sense of open, mutual discovery.) Myers' "Jumping in the Sugar" is a vivacious call and response that steps into the latter, tuneful territory. So does "Enter East", which presents a slow, low and gradual melody over a muffled foot cymbal. Of course, melody is only one compelling but small part of this. Much more is based on tempos, patterns and slightly off-kilter rhythmic flow. For "Girls Dancing", the final cut, is a case in point in this regard and this one in particular hops around one's auditory memory long after it ends.
Especially if this — Andrew Cyrille, solo, measured and tuneful percussion, patient rhythmic development — sounds like your thing, this album will be a real joy to listen to. And I do mean joy. Some songs are more somber or abstract than others. But throughout, one gets a sense that Cyrille, after all these years, still delights in his musical discoveries. And, well, so do I.
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