ANDREW CYRILLE & BILLY HARPER
Andrew Cyrille (NYC)
Billy Harper (NYC)
Saturday, April 18, 2020
at the historic ElDorado Ballroom
2310 Elgin Street
General seating. Pay what you can/pay
what you will. Everyone under 18 gets in for free.
Nameless Sound and Project Row Houses present the first-ever duo collaboration between two of jazz’s living legends.
The careers of Andrew Cyrille and Billy Harper both feature
associations that span generations of modern jazz, with both musicians
initially earning their reputation as a sideman of one of the most
influential musical leaders of the 1960’s: Cyrille as a pioneering
member of The Cecil Taylor Unit and Harper with Art Blakey’s Jazz
Every major shift in the development of jazz has depended on the role
of important drummers. The stylistic advances of swing were steered-in
by Joe Jones and Chick Webb. The bebop revolution could not have
happened without Kenny Clarke and Max Roach as its rhythmic architects.
Andrew Cyrille is among the pioneering percussionists of the 1960’s who
finally freed the drums from the limits of its timekeeping duties, thus
liberating the music from the constraints of strict meter. Developing
his craft at the Julliard and Harnett schools of music, Andrew Cyrille
studied with the great Philly Joe Jones before finding work with
Coleman Hawkins and Mary Lou Williams. Joining iconoclastic pianist
Cecil Taylor’s group in 1964 was a key moment that allowed his
pan-metrical approach to the drum kit to truly blossom, paving the way
for a new kind of drummer. Behind the drums, Cyrille is a total
musician. Rhythm, color, melody, texture continuously shape the music’s
form; with a relaxed economy of physical gesture that belies the
totality of the music being crafted from behind the kit.
Raised in Houston’s Sunnyside neighborhood, Billy Harper was playing in
the city’s blues clubs by the age of 16. While a student at North Texas
State University, his powerful and probing sound was cultivated off
campus while performing alongside formidable Texas saxophone giants
like Dewey Redman, Julius Hemphill, James Clay, and David “Fathead”
Newman. When Harper hit the New York scene in the late 1960’s, he
quickly established himself in the pantheon of tenor saxophone greats.
His authority on the instrument was attested by his membership in the
bands of three of the music’s most important drummers: Art Blakey, Max
Roach and Elvin Jones. Harper was also establishing himself as an
emerging leader in the music with now classic LP’s such as Capra Black and Black Saint.
Not easily swayed by trends, Billy Harper has always been an artist
defined by musical integrity. At a time when many jazz musicians
compromised their voice in a search for opportunities, Harper declined
a lucrative offer that few young musicians would have passed up, a spot
in Miles Davis’ band. He stuck to his guns and remained in the band of
Max Roach, playing music that meant something to him and following a
path closer to his personal calling. That unwavering commitment can be
heard and felt to this day, every time he puts his horn to his