"In the world of jazz — be it free, mainstream or other more personal styles — Andrew Cyrille is known for drawing vivid sonic pictures and making incendiary rhythms with his drum set." – NPR
Image Copyright © Laurel Golio
Master drummer and composer Andrew Cyrille, began studying science at St. John's University while playing jazz in the evenings. He began formally studying drums and composition first with Philly Joe Jones in 1958, and later at The Juilliard School and Hartnett School of Music. At that time, he also performed with artists ranging from Mary Lou Williams, Coleman Hawkins, Roland Hanna and Illinois Jacquet to Kenny Dorham, Freddie Hubbard, Walt Dickerson, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji among others. Beginning in 1964, Cyrille’s 11-year iconic collaboration with pianist Cecil Taylor would define the category of free jazz drumming and establish Cyrille in the vanguard of jazz drummers and percussionists. From 1969, Cyrille formed several percussion groups featuring notable drummers such as Kenny Clarke, Milford Graves, Famoudou Don Moye, Rashied Ali, Daniel Ponce, Michael Carvin and Vladimir Tarasov. Since leaving Taylor's group, he went on to work with formidable artists as David Murray, Muhal Richard Abrams, Mal Waldron, Horace Tapscott, James Newton, Peter Brötzmann and Oliver Lake. Cyrille was the drummer on Billy Bang's 'A Tribute to Stuff Smith,' notable for being the last studio session of Sun Ra.
From 1971-1973, Cyrille was artist in residence and instructor at Antioch College, OH, and also taught at the Graham Windham Home for Children in New York. He is currently on faculty at The New School – School of Jazz in NYC. In 1994, he released an educational video, Jazz Methodology in Drum Music: In and Out of Meter, based on nearly 100 jazz albums and 30 years of Cyrille's professional jazz drumming with artists like Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, and others.
A prolific and indefatigable composer and performer, Cyrille released Declaration of Musical Independence on ECM records in 2017, and has a forthcoming release in 2018. Cyrille has toured and performed throughout North America, Europe, Africa, and the former USSR. He formed Haitian Fascination with Haitian percussionist Frisner Augustin and guitarist Alix Pascal, and for over 27 years has been a member of TRIO3, featuring Oliver Lake and Reggie Workman. He leads his own groups in various formations and performs in duo, trio and larger configurations (big bands) with luminaries such as Archie Shepp, Roswell Rudd, Marilyn Crispell, Bill Frisell, Richard Teitelbaum, Irene Schweizer, Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano, Jason Moran, Vijay Iyer, David Virelles, Bill McHenry, Ben Street, Henry Grimes, William Parker, Soren Kjaergaard, and others. In addition to Andrew Cyrille’s 21st Century Big Band Unlimited, his most recent big band performance was with Mark Masters’ American Jazz Institute Ensemble.
Cyrille is a Guggenheim Fellow in Composition (1999). Other notable achievements include three National Endowment for the Arts grants for performance and composition, two Meet the Composer/ AT&T- Rockefeller Foundation grants, and an Arts International Award to perform with his quintet in Accra, Ghana, and West Africa, and two ASCAP awards for meritorious achievement in percussion composition. He is the 2019 Vision Festival Lifetime Achievement Award honoree by Arts for Art, Inc.