Barry Altschul, William Hooker, Bobby Previte & Andrew Cyrille
This expansion seems like a natural progression for a player who's already worked in every conceivable smaller-combo permutation. Even though Cyrille was often at the centre of his own sound, this was a vehicle for his compositional skills. There had been a significant collaboration with conductor and arranger Mark Masters, who hinted at a strong influence in the final inked realization of each piece, an editor as well as a sonic servant. This was a core big band, with most of the players sitting in the horn ranks, only Cyrille and bassist Putter Smith set outside these rows.
Cyrille has an album lying in wait, and is now seeking a suitable record company to release the results. Most of the works are lined up to appear on this projected disc, the set opening with a pair of representative pieces, "The Navigator" and "High Priest." This last tune was dedicated to the memory of the departed reed man David S. Ware, and featured a rap intro by Cyrille. This was partly rap in its original beatnik sense, and partly influenced by the rap of today.
The compositions weren't as extreme or as abstracted as might be expected from Cyrille, virtually inhabiting a mainline big band terrain. Despite Masters talking about these tunes' extremes, ranging from tight arrangements to free form expression, the improvisations always seemed very rooted in the establishing themes. This was no negative state, as much of the night's flighty spirit emanated from the often inspired solos by reed multi-instrumentalists Billy Harper, Marty Ehrlich and West Coaster Gary Foster, sonic painter Craig Harris, mute-burbling trombonist Art Baron and trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater. The leader also delivered a completely solo percussion piece, emphasizing tuned skins and deftly repeated patterns.