STEVE LACY soprano saxophone
1 - JOHNNY COME LATELY - 2:45
2 - LUSH LIFE - 3:07
3 - UMMG - 1:56
4 - MOMS - 5:32
5 - POPS - 4:57
6 - THE DUMPS - 4:05
7 - SLABS - 5:40
8 - THE WOOL - 5:53
9 - TORMENTS - 8:32
10 - MOMA DUCK - 6:10
11 - COASTLINE - 6:14
12 - HOOKY - 8:08
13 - SNIPS - 11:18
All analogue concert recordings:
1 – 3: Avignon (Théâtre du Chene Noir) by Georg Radanowicz 1972 August 7
4 – 6: Avignon (Théâtre du Chene Noir) 1974 August 5
7 – 10: Paris (Musée d’Art Moderne) 1975 March 5
11 – 12: Edmonton (Captain’s Cabin) 1976 March 21
13: Köln (Beginner Studio) 1977 December 16
Total time 75:12
All previously unissued
This CD is made up of previously unissued highlights from some of Steve Lacy’s solo concerts in the 1970s. Rather than go for complete concerts, I have decided to select performances that are relatively rare compositions and/or very fine renditions, and which therefore add something to those already published. The sound is somewhat variable due to differences in the five recording techniques as well as to the varied acoustics of the four spaces. In some cases this has meant the inevitable compromise between removing hiss and hum and leaving the music intact.
Highlights of his two very first solo concerts, dating from Avignon in 1972, were the main part of Volume 1 (Emanem 5023). That selection did not use the first items performed on both days, the three Billy Strayhorn pieces, JOHNNY COME LATELY, LUSH LIFE and UPPER MANHATTAN MEDICAL GROUP (UMMG). These may not be the most profound performances, but they are very nice to hear. As far as I know, there are no other records of Lacy playing these tunes, except for JOHNNY COME LATELY with Cecil Taylor at the 1957 Newport festival (Verve), and with Mal Waldron in 1986 (Soul Note) and 1993 (Slam).
We were present when Lacy returned to the Avignon theatre after a gap of two years. The first two chosen highlights pre-date other published versions of these tunes. Irene Aebi tells me that MOMS and POPS (which became the first two parts of the SHOTS cycle) were as much about Steve’s parents as hers. THE DUMPS, inspired by Jelly Roll Morton, was first performed solo at the first 1972 Avignon concert, but this 1974 version is better both musically and sound-wise.
The Paris concert of the following year contained a variety of music. The rarity, SLABS, dedicated to the 1930s British dance band leader Lew Stone, is making its first appearance on record. THE WOOL was only previously available on the 1972 Avignon concert heard on Volume 1. This performance is similar, except that the improvised middle goes off in a different direction, so it seems sensible to double the number of performances on record. The second half of both this concert and the 1974 Avignon one featured the whole CLANGS cycle, but neither performance came up to the overall level of the slightly earlier Berlin one heard on Volume 1. However, the Paris version of TORMENTS is even noisier and more misterioso than any other version I’ve heard, so it is included here. THE MOMA DUCK was the final item in the concert. There have been so many solo and group versions published, but this must surely be the contender for the best.
In 1976, I co-ordinated Lacy’s first solo tour of North America comprising a concert in New York City (released as SNIPS on Jazz Magnet) followed by about six concerts in Canadian cities. Of these, he considered the best music and recording to be from Montreal (released as HOOKY on Emanem 4042). In between these two dates, one of the places he performed at was Edmonton from whence came an unusual version of COASTLINE, and a fine HOOKY - a piece that only appears to have been perfomed on this North American tour.
Finally, there is a definitive version of SNIPS from a solo recital which was the very first concert held at Walter Zimmerman’s Beginner Studio in Köln. Being dedicted to Billy Strayhorn, this piece neatly, although accidentally, makes an apt end to this collection.
MARTIN DAVIDSON (2014)
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