Soprano Sax (CD)


Steve Lacy

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Amoeba Review

10/08/2014

 

By Tom Skelly    If you like jazz that pushes the boundaries of trad-jazz while still retaining its connection to it, then you will surely find these jazz standard songs of interest. Nixieland jazz is a term that, by extension of New Orleans came out of Nick’s jazz club in New York City in the 1940’s. As a revival of Dixieland jazz, Nixieland’s connection to the urban environment gave it a more progressive sound. Steve Lacy got started in the Nixie tradition in the 1950’s and through his connections with Thelonious Monk, Gil Evans, and Cecil Taylor, had jumped into avant-garde jazz when he moved to Europe in 1965 and settled in Paris for most of his life. As Sidney Bechet was finishing up his career on the unruly soprano sax in the 1950’s, Lacy continued carrying the torch and became the father of modern soprano sax playing. John Coltrane picked it up upon hearing Lacy’s performances with Monk in the early 1960’s.

This is Steve Lacy’s debut album as a leader released in1958. It features exceptional performances by sidemen Buell Neidlinger, Dennis Charles, and Wynton Kelly on piano doing a tremendous solo on “Alone Together”.

I first learned of Lacy’s music in the 1980’s when I became his point man whenever he came to Los Angles with his legendary quintet or as a duo with Mal Waldron. Picking him up at the airport, getting him to his hotel and gigs at venues such as Catalina’s when she was on Cahuenga (just up the road from Amoeba Music), the Jazz Bakery, the Chino prison, and KCRW were usually the performance and interview destinations. On a Thanksgiving evening he showed and played me an album by Duke Ellington that he treasures called The Intimate Ellington from around 1970. Hearing this album helped me understand his vision of jazz.

I consider this SOPRANO SAX album thrilling as he unhesitantly flys through the songs while expanding the contours of their melodies leaving the listener in awe of what he hears and how he delivers. This is at a time before he mastered textural flurries and Webern pointillism. His playing here is extremely chromatic and fits somewhere between the hard bop of the time, and Miles’ “Kind of Blue”. Lacy can hear things we don’t and can chop up the phrasing while making it sound as effortless as a Burt Bacharach or George Gershwin tune while keeping the challenge present.

This album will bring a smile to faces who know the songs and keep the toes tapping for those that don’t. All of Lacy’s music reflects the lost and beat generations because of its

counter-cultural travel down the back roads of the underground.

 



Track Listing



Disc 1 Titles
Artist
Length
1.
Day Dream
Steve Lacy 04:24
2.
Alone Together
Steve Lacy 06:47
3.
Work
Steve Lacy 05:26
4.
Rockin' in Rhythm
Steve Lacy 04:08
5.
Little Girl Your Daddy Is Calling You
Steve Lacy 04:34
6.
Easy to Love
Steve Lacy 08:23

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