Andrew Cyrille & Bill McHenry, Proximity (Sunnyside)
Cyrille, a dancer on drums, teams with the intrepid tenor saxophonist McHenry in a succession of duets. Their close listening to one another results in empathy that sustains remarkable quietness, considering that one of the partners is a percussionist. They express their shared sense of jazz rhythm even when—as on “Seasons”—McHenry applies lyricism and tone akin to that of classical saxophonists. Over the subtle insistence of Cyrille’s mallets in “Bedouin Woman,” McHenry contributes to a mood of mystery that sustains through the fade ending. “Drum Song For Leadbelly” is a succession of drum-tenor exchanges on a rhythmic idea. In spirit, symmetry and repetition it, indeed, grows into a performance reminiscent of the great folk and blues artist. Some of Leadbelly’s 1940 recordings with the Golden Gate Quartet (“Pick a Bale of Cotton,” “Yellow Gal”) come to mind. In “Aquatics,” Cyrille plays brushes so softly under McHenry’s ruminations, that the saxophonist evidently feels the suitable response is to blow pure air through his horn. It is remarkably effective. Of the 12 tracks, none runs much over five minutes. The last one—five seconds long—is Cyrille saying, “To be continued.” Good idea.
Izabella Effenberg Trio, IZA (Unit Records)
IZA is the predecessor of the German vibraphonist’s Cuéntame, reviewed here earlier this month. As in the Cyrille-McHenry album, percussion plays a principal role without overwhelming the proceedings. Drummer and marimbist Pawel Czubatka and pianist Jochen Pfister are hand-in-glove with Ms. Effenberg throughout. In “So ist das,” Pfister, and Czubatka on drums, stir up a crescendo that contrasts with the reserve of much of the rest of the album. Ms. Effenberg’s “Meaning of Life” is reassuringly peaceful and bluesy. IZA seems to be available in the US only as a download but widely available in Europe as a CD.