|| Steve Lacy Sextet
Cat. No.: SHCD102
Steve Lacy soprano saxophone
Steve Potts alto & soprano saxophone
Irène Aebi vocals, violin
Bobby Few piano
Jean-Jacques Avenel bass
Oliver Johnson drums
1. Gay Paree Bop (Lacy) 9:00
2. Napping (Take 1) (Lacy) 8:57
3. The Gleam (Lacy) 7:00
4. As Usual (Lacy) 12:12
5. Keepsake (Lacy) 10:22
6. Napping (Take 2) (Lacy) 9:20
Total time: 58:00
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"The Steve Lacy Repertory Co. (featuring Irène Aebi's heartily distinctive
voice supported by a gruff voiced Lacy on Usual) is wide awake and
fired up on The Gleam, their Silkheart debut. Lacy's assertions concerning
the advantage of having a regular working unit with the opportunity to dig into
material to make the music thrive and grow are certainly born out here."
Milo Fine, Cadence, May 1988
You see, one group is built on the group preceding it. It's built on the experience
and the sound of the precedent groups and all these different groups that you
have, they'll ultimately lead to the group that you stay with. And that's the
group that I have now, it is a long enduring group of twelve years now.
My present group has existed since the early seventies. It was formed in Paris
and with a couple of personnel changes here and there it's been fairly stable
for over a decade now. This is a big advantage, and the reason is that playing
with the same people over a period of years you can take chances together because
you have a chemistry that works and you have a long experience together and therefore,
well, you can be more free together. It's very important to be able to play with
the same people all the time, I think, because that way you can make some progress.
Because they're friends and they trust you and you trust them. And you have the
freedom to take risks together and the possibility of making magic because you
know each other so well that you can achieve, well, magic is the only word for
it. Not every night, but sometimes.
The other advantage is to play the same material over a period of years so as
to know it better, so as also to be able to take more liberties with it. Because
you know it over a period of ten years and therefore you can really take chances
with it, you can really take it on out. So, if you have the same people playing
the same material over a long period of time you can play it very well, but you
can also risk to go to sleep if the material is not interesting enough. So this
was my whole quest all these years, for interesting enough material played by
good enough players so as to really find something truly challenging and alive.
And I really think we've got it now with the current band.
STEVE POTTS, the alto and soprano saxophone, we've been together for about twelve
years now and what we do is an indissoluble unity. It's like two players making
one sound, and I can never sleep with Steve Potts because he always is going to
keep me on my toes at all moments, I need this constant challenge. I think that
inspiration is very important and on my right hand I have it all the time.
IRENE AEBI, the vocalist and violin and cello player in the band, well we met
in '66 in Rome. And basically, that's the voice, it's like the heart of the music
and she's got the ear, the golden ear. It's been a long story of collaboration
together but basically hers is the voice that allowed me to find the way to use
the word in the jazz. And that's no mean feat, because the voice had almost gone
out of jazz in the fifties, largely I mean. When the music really got turbulent
in the sixties and all that, there was no place for the voice or for the song
for that matter. So my job was to bring the song form back into the jazz and Irene
had the voice that allowed me to experiment over a long period of years and ultimately
to achieve this result, this new substance, which contains the jazz music and
the voice and the words.
Now the texts we use for the pieces we pIay, well there are many of them and they're
all different. Each one is a different case that might come from a poet, it might
be from a letter, a postcard, a wall slogan, something I find in a newspaper.
But the important thing is that Irene being the voice, well the primary consideration
is simply is it something she can say? Is it something that she would want to
say? Will she want to say it again long enough so as to learn how to do it. So
the interest of the text is primary. And then after that, it's a question of careful
consideration and setting the text to musical pitches and rhythms and then learning
them and performing them.
That takes a long time. Sometimes it could take ten or twenty years between the
time that you receive the words and you deliver the song. And I think music like
that can sound very surprising at first and it may take awhile before it sounds
normal, and that's OK, but it's different with every tune really. And it's different
with every time, and you can't generalize about it.
BOBBY FEW is the key to this band, of course, the keyboard man. The piano is very
important in this group because it's the best instrument to support the voice
when singing. For a singer there's nothing better than a piano for accompaniment.
So, I mean, even if we have the drums and the bass and the saxophones and all
that, well we need the keyboard. Bobby Few comes from Cleveland and is almost
as old as I am and he's one of the reasons I moved to Paris from Rome. Because,
as I said before, you need good musicians to play with and I saw that there were
more and better musicians in Paris around '69 or '70. And so Irene and I moved
to Paris and Bobby Few was one of the reasons. One of the flash musicians I met
at that time and now he plays with me in our band. Well, it's like a dream come
true for me.
JEAN-JACQUES AVENEL at the bass, is our own discovery. We heard him when he was
just out of his teens and almost an amateur, and he's been playing with us a long
time in Paris. J.-J. is as good as one can get, and getting better! He has a unique
approach to a great tradition and is one of the best bassists in Europe, or anywhere.
OLIVER JOHNSON at the drums; you know, a drummer is the number one requirement
of the jazz to me. Jazz to me without the drums is inconceivable, except as a
relief sometimes. But really at the heart of the jazz is the drums and so a really
good drummer who knows what to plays is my primary need. I've always been very
lucky and been associated with many, many good drummers all the time of my playing
career. And, well, Oliver has been with us for about ten years now and he's the
greatest, that's all I could say.
STEVE LACY, soprano saxophone. I've been working on the soprano saxophone for
quite a few years now, maybe 33 years. I went on with it and after awhile I realized
that I was all alone. It had been abandoned by the older players and not taken
up by the newer players and it was in a state of limbo. This was both fearful
and challenging for me, the field was mine. There was nothing to go by and I had
to make it in my own fashion, in my own way. I had to find my own guides and models
and my own music, because there was nothing suitable written for it. I looked
around for many years and tried to write my own music, but until I was able to
do that I nurtured myself on many other musics; Charlie Parker, Anton Webern,
Ellington, Kurt Weill, old standard tunes, whatever I could find that would fit.
And then one day I discovered Thelonious Monk's music and, well, that music really
fit the horn and myself and was exactly what I was looking for. I really explored
that music for a long time, both on the saxophone and on the piano, to see how
it was structured. And finally, at the end of that long period I began to uncover
my own music and started to write my own pieces, which I'm still playing.