Steve Lacy, solo soprano saxophone
Steve Lacy, composer, educator, and author, and arguably the greatest living master of the modern soprano saxophone, presents a suite of ten Ellington pieces, and six originals in this stunning solo performance, recorded "live at the Egg Farm in Saitama, Japan."
The entire program is a resounding success; Lacy captures the orchestral colors that are at the core of Ellington's art. Just seconds into the first track, "In a Mellow Tone," reveals a musician at the top of his game, a huge, well-rounded tone, a powerful rhythmic drive, and most importantly, a singular awareness of the emotive aspects of music. In this complex aesthetic, borne of several decades of meticulous research, multiple forms including "polytones, smears, kisses," extreme glissandi exist solely to serve the musical content.
By track nine in the suite ("Koko") Lacy has already drawn us into his musical universe; we are witness to storytelling of rare eloquence. Lacy's music goes straight to the heart; and that's what sets him apart from the pack.
And one would be hard-pressed to find more wonderfully intricate and personal compositions. Poems by Melville, Kerouac, and others provide Lacy with multiple points of departure. The harmonic concept evident in "Art," "Gospel," "On a Midnight Kick," "Wave Lover," "The Breath," and "Traces" speak to a knowledge of interval relationships that is unprecedented in this music.
Jazz Now wishes Mr. Lacy great success in his new position at the New England Conservatory.
by James D. Armstrong, Jr.
Editor, Music in Transition
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Copyright Jazz Now, October 2002 issue, all rights reserved