This Silkheart release has one of the finest all-around recordings by Steve Lacy's Sextet. The leader, a longtime master of the soprano sax, is joined by the underrated altoist Steve Potts (who doubles on soprano), pianist Bobby Few, bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel, drummer Oliver Johnson, and Irene Aebi on vocals and violin. Aebi's singing, which is always an acquired taste, is as accessible as it ever was on the joyful "Gay Paree Bop"; all five compositions are Lacy originals. Overall, this set gives listeners a particularly strong example of the work of the innovative Steve Lacy Sextet.
This double-CD reissues the nine numbers from a former double LP, adding three previously unreleased tunes from the same Switzerland concert. The Steve Lacy Five (the leader on soprano, Steve Potts on alto and soprano, Irene Aebi on cello, violin and vocals, bassist Kent Carter and drummer Oliver Johnson) is at its best on scalar-based instrumentals such as the near-classic "Blinks." Some tunes utilize the voices of Aebi and Lacy, and these are often quite eccentric and for more selective tastes. But the many strong solos by Lacy and the highly underrated altoist Potts makes this two-fer of interest for followers of advanced jazz. This was always a well-organized and highly original group.
The equality, the almost perfect balance in complement and contrast, of the musical collaboration between Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron was palpable in both its internal and external workings … These four CDs, captured live in Paris in 1981, are notable as the first documentation of their performances as a duo, a particularly felicitous exploration of common interests and uncommon talents, initiating an intermittent series of duo recordings that would span thirteen years, varying repertoire, and several labels, but never venture far from the groundwork that was established here.
Considered the first modern soprano saxophonist, Steve Lacy propelled the instrument from classic Dixieland romps to the cutting edge of avant-garde jazz and back again. This import exclusive remastered reissue features two rare 1956 sessions of Steve Lacy during the early stages of his legendary career. The release also features such fine musicians as Herbie Mann, Don Stratton, Joe Puma, Dave McKenna and Osie Johnson.
This gives a good picture of Lacy's range in the 1970s. Solos, some very stretched out ensemble work, some of the best Aebi I've heard. There's even a snippet of Lacy playing Satie––if you visit the Satie Museum in Honfleur you'll heard a beauteous solo of his, and he played Satie in a few European concerts, recordings of which exist and should be issued. The three-CD box set that makes up Scratching the Seventies/Dreams represents Steve Lacy's first expatriate records in Paris beginning with sessions in June of 1969 and concluding in 1977 with six of the seven members of the Steve Lacy Septet (pianist Bobby Few was not yet on board). Here, five complete albums tell the story of that decade in the musical aesthetic of Steve Lacy's development as an artist as well as a composer and bandleader.
This set, recorded between April 4 and April 8, 1996, teamed soprano saxophone giant Steve Lacy with five different pianists. Half the cuts were composed by Lacy, three by Thelonious Monk, and one improvisation by Van Hove and Lacy – the least interesting work included here, because it didn't work. The first five tracks would have made an album for any jazz fan, and the rest, while interesting, don't touch the first half, and perhaps that's because the first two pianists are Marilyn Crispell and Misha Mengelberg. Two pieces by Lacy, "The Crust" and "Blues For Aida," start things off with Crispell playing an inspired counterpoint to the artist during the melody, moving into a piano solo that combines a total shift of Lacy's compositional thought into an almost purely classical realm (Bruckner anyone?) before entering into a dialogue that brings the work back to the jazz tradition, and there is no seam.
Saxophonist Lacy provides listeners with an engaging, lyrical selection of material. Featured here is Lacy's long-time collaborator acoustic bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel; each offering lengthy periods of soloing. Fluid and stunning, Avenel migrates over the expanse of his instrument's ebony fingerboard conjuring compelling and commanding melodies with effortless virtuosity. An entirely different face of Lacy, this is the man at his experimental best. His wife, Irene Aebi, joins on vocals. As much as the fragmented and angular musical lines, Aebi's theatric and often spoken delivery gives this music its art jazz quality. Added instrumentation is more saxophones, bass clarinet, percussion, and especially the harpsichord.
According to the liner notes of this new edition, Steve Lacy walked into the ESP-Disk offices in New York in 1966 and offered to sell Bernard Stollman a tape of a concert he had recorded with his quartet during a concert in Argentina (where they had been stranded). That band was truly an international one: Lacy and Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava made up the front line, and the rhythm section included South African expats Johnny Dyani on bass and drummer Louis Moholo – who had both been members of the Blue Notes and the Brotherhood of Breath with Chris McGregor. Engineer Ken Robertson brought the tape back to Stollman in 1992, claiming the entire album had been recorded out of phase. This makes sense given the lags on the original. The remastered and reissued CD version issued in 2008 claims to have fixed that problem.