|| Steve Lacy
5 x Monk, 5 x Lacy
Cat. No.: SHCD144
Steve Lacy soprano saxophone
1. Shuffle Boil (T. Monk) 3:48
2. Eronel (T. Monk) 3:52
3. Evidence (T. Monk) 3:35
4. Pannonica (T. Monk) 5:24
5. Who Knows (T. Monk) 3:12
6. The Crust (S. Lacy) 4:13
7. Blues for Aida (S. Lacy) 6:09
8. Revenue (S. Lacy) 5:28
9. Naked Lunch (S. Lacy) 4:13
10. Deadline (S. Lacy) 5:16
Total time: 45:37
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|"And the entirety of Lacy's
art is to be found in compacted form in solo concerts like 5 x Monk,
5 x Lacy."
Bill Shoemaker, Jazz Times, October 1997
Steve Lacy's evocative program of solo soprano saxophone expositions
was recorded live at the Stockholm Kulturhuset in March 1994, during the
improvisation festival, "I Öronblicket". It was clearly an extraordinary
performance at the time and this is abundantly confirmed by the CD of the
appearance. The front cover of the CD features a pen and ink illustration
of Steve Lacy made in the early sixties in Rome by the late black American
artist, Bob Thompson.
SHUFFLE BOIL I like to begin solo concerts with this piece, because of its low register, medium tempo, and the generous use of silent space. It has a very simple melody, but it is also a subtle polyphonic structure with interesting harmonic implications. Of course, all of Thelonious Monk's music is about play and dance.
ERONEL is a good vehicle from the late '40s; bebop for blowing on and a charming
melodic portrait of somebody's old flame, (Lenore spelled backwards).
EVIDENCE Since I've been studying, practising, and performing (and teaching)
this composition for 40 years, the evidence indicates that:
(i) It must be extremely interesting and/or very challenging and problematic.
(ii) Evidently I'm not satisfied with my own interpretation of it and therefore, not finished with it.
(iii) It is surely one of Monk's masterpieces, mysterious, provocative, and endlessly fascinating.
PANNONICA This is a portrait of the Baroness. Nica was a dear friend of mine,
and one of the key personages on the New York scene when I was coming up, in the
late '50s. We both loved Monk. She helped me to get the gig with him, at the Jazz
Gallery in 1960. She aided many musicians in various ways, always with taste,
discretion, humor, and elegance. Her style was as original as Monk's was, in her
WHO KNOWS is rarely performed, due to the complexity of line. The harmonic underpinnings
are more old-fashioned, and the form ABCA works perfectly well for this pure bobop
THE CRUST was written in '72. Rex Stewart, Duke and Fletcher's brass genius, gave
me my name when I worked with him in 1953. He was a master of lyrical space, and
swinging humor. This piece is an evocation of his style and personality.
BLUES FOR AIDA This was composed in the late '70s as part of a ballet, called
"Score". It is one of five blues, based on Japanese love poems a thousand years
old. It seems that the blues are eternal, as well as universal. Aquirax Aida,
who died in the late '70s, was a connoisseur, critic, and promoter of all the
arts, especially jazz. He brought me to Japan for the first time in '75, so that
I could meet and perform with outstanding artists like Masahiko Togashi (percussion)
and WatazumidoSo (shakuhachi).
REVENUE was written several years ago and is a homage/portrait to/of Robert Creeley.
A great poet makes us all rich, even if he does not get wealthy himself. The improvisation
is based on a scale, hidden in the fabric.
NAKED LUNCH This is the main tango, from a dance piece we performed in the early
'80s. The decor was by Brion Gysin, and the lyrics were from "Naked Lunch", by
DEADLINE I often finish a solo set with this line ('78), because it's the end
of the line, when time runs out, and you can play anything you want, and it may
be the last chance you'll ever get.
This was a typical solo set for me. The winds were in my favor, I had a good (Marca)
reed, the public was attentive, and the gods were smiling, once again.
Berlin, 11 February 96
PS: As for the drawing of me (when I still smoked cigarettes), by Bob Thompson,
he got me! He died tragically in 1966, and the proof of his greatness is the fact
that, since then, there has been nobody on the scene as gifted and original as
During the spring of 1994, Swedish Radio's Program 2 in cooperation with Utbildningsradion (the Educational Radio Service of the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation), carried out a fairly sizeable examination of the phenomenon of improvisation in differing musical cultures of every possible kind.
Utbildningsradion broadcast several series of programs utilizing both radio and
television and I recall, as an instance, an excellent half hour for TV featuring
a clinic by drummer Max Roach. Swedish Radio's P2 also broadcast a number of radio
programs of concerts specifically arranged for this purpose.
One of the highpoints was the weekend festival, "I Öronblicket", which P2 organized
in cooperation with the Kulturhuset in Stockholm on March 26th and 27th, 1994.
"I Öronblicket" was very much of a team project for which Folke Rabe represented
P2 and Sture Olofsson represented Utbildningsradion in the overall coordination
and planning, with Stefan Holmström as producer for the Kulturhuset's participation.
Additionally, in consultation, a panel of producers from within P2 had proposed
their own choice of artists for the festival, and Steve Lacy was the choice of
Lars-Göran Ulander in this manner. Lars-Göran thus became the producer for that
department of the concert. For its name, the "I Öronblicket" festival made use
of a witty piece of concocted slang signifying "in the instant, for ears". This
extraordinarily adventurous package played Saturday and Sunday at the Kulturhuset
in Stockholm, featuring a dozen very diverse Swedish and international improvising
groups comprising musicians with roots in a wide variety of disparate musical
traditions. A list of participating groups is to be found in the postscript following.
The audiences at the Kulturhuset, though smaller than had been hoped, comprised
quite a fair sprinkling of musicians and were in general uncommonly receptive
and attentive. The acoustics and overall situation for the performances was excellent,
as indeed was the level of production. I was at the Theater Room (Hörsalen) on
Saturday afternoon and heard a selection of the groups. Steve Lacy eventually
appeared on stage to present his solo soprano saxophone performance and I recall
being utterly ravished by the musicality of Lacy's improvisations; his attack,
his pitching, and the way he was placing certain notes of the inferred chords
under his improvised lines to yield an extraordinarily three-dimensional tension
and structure to the music he was proposing. Most striking was the sensation of
hearing Lacy play these themes for the very first time, working out his plans
and detailed strategies as he went along. There was no suggestion, as it were,
of any part of the material being revamped. I recall several years ago hearing
Endré Wolf performing Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (BWV 1001-1006)
in a Stockholm cellar club by the name of Forum, and in particular his investigation
of the Ciaccona from Partita number 2 in D minor. That music is really quite hard
to play and, to be effective, it must be devoid of rote, with that same necessity
for working it out each step of the way, always playing it as for the first time.
Elsewhere in this booklet, Steve Lacy discusses the various songs that he played
in his program and each has an image, a memory and/or a musical challenge, from
which his performance of any one of them proceeds. The common property between
the Ciaccona of the D minor Partita and, say, Thelonious Monk's "Evidence", is
that both insist on a performance that investigates the harmonic tension and time
of the material with complete rigor. This is some of the most beautiful of all
music and the beauty resides to an overwhelming degree in its improvised nature.
In his solo soprano saxophone performances, Steve Lacy allows us the privilege
of experiencing a very pure musical aesthetic, and a very exciting experience
PS: All the groups featuring in the "I Öronblicket" festival performed once only, apart from the Terry Riley-George Brooks duo who played to open and also close the festival. Those appearing were:
- Terry Riley (piano) and George Brooks (tenor sax) USA
- Sten Sandell (piano/voice/percussion) and Anders Jormin (string bass) Sweden
- Malcolm Goldstein (violin) USA
- Steve Lacy (soprano sax) USA
- Frode Fjellheim Jazz-Joik Ensemble Norway
- Ensemble Hesar Iran
- K Shivakumar (violin), K. Sridar (sarod) and Bengt Berger (tablas) India
- Elisabeffi Chojnacka (harpsichord) Poland/France
- Dan Laurin (recorder) Sweden
- Ivo Nilsson (trombone/live-electronics) Sweden
- Louis Sclavis-Dominique Pifarely acoustic quartet France.
The event was reviewed by Freduk Söderling with 22 column-inches ("Fiery Spontaneity
Surprises") in Sweden's biggest newspaper, DN (3-29-94), and, notwithstanding
the ambitious compass of the actual program, Söderling had wished to know why
the experimental rockers, the free improvisation musicians, the live-electronics
artists, more of the ladies and some young musicians had not been represented
there. Clearly its hard to please everyone!