|Uncompromising. Great artist. A man of sounds and notes. Committed.
Such words come to mind when thinking about Steve Lacy, a bold participant and a fluent, ironic conversationalist in this Paris recording of his remarkable quintet and its remarkable music.
"The Gap" assaults with a downward polyphonic scream/ the sound is thinning... now Stop at SILENCE /a gap/ These horns (bird cries) cry, enter Noel McGhie's stuttering snare ----> alto Steve Potts settles into Arabic-sounding scales underpinned by the rhythmically staggered bass lines of Kent Carter --------------------> Potts is playing a grainy wave form/ the two bird cries meet as bowed bass and alto phase, and phase out... Potts is riding his agony and ecstasy, which Lacy answers in the same pitch and continues to chew on his very notes/words? halting, but still talking, the quintet finds conclusion in Noel McGhie's solo, all multi-tones and timbres, all sounds leading to a group speech-ified sound, which ends with a Lacy
"Esteem" is eery /high-pitched (Lacy and Potts) in held out notes/ bowed bass joins this harmonized horn duet... threaded by the bowed bass line, Potts is declamatory, almost muezzin-like in his alto voice, to arrive at a final disclosure, that three play ------> bass-drum-alto saxophone, in an eery high-pitched unanimity, to cycle back to bar one, where to this end, only the bowed bass line continues....
"La Motte-Picquet" dedicated to the memory of Sonny Clark and named after a Paris Métro station, La Motte-Picquet Grenelle employs a perky repeated 4-note horn phrase (12 times?), answered by a different bluesy 4-note phrase: now Potts offers pieces of the tune, as Lacy carefully works its intervals, then Potts' mellifluous alto freely arpeggiates the melody... the melody the same rhythm as the title, "La Motte-Picquet", this very hip and modern Lacy version of a 'jump tune'.
WHAT to play, and HOW to play it, are fundamental questions rigorously addressed by the Lacy quintet in this vigorous workout of Lacy compositions. Contained herein are his and his associates' high artistic purpose as improvisors, as well as Lacy's will to carve out his OWN music. Originality and individuality: the hallmarks of master musician and true artist, Steve Lacy.
But as many of you likely know, Steve Lacy passed away on June 4, 2004, and it seems the world is a little emptier as another day turns.