this is simply some of the finest music I know.
a criminally condensed biography: Steve Lacy started off playing Dixieland and Bop in the 1950s, was the first modern jazz musician to embrace the soprano saxophone, and has become the world's best known practitioner of the instrument. In the 60s he became a devoted desciple of Monk, moved to Paris, and introduced John Coltrane to the "straight horn". he is known as the world's foremost interpreter of Monk's music - indeed, he had more Monk tunes in his bag than Monk himself. in the 1970s his inclination toward free playing and further departures from traditional harmony was given prominence, and a large portion of his work occupied the outer limits - exploring improvisation as well as developing a strange kind of lyricism with his wife the idiosyncratic vocalist/cellist Irene Aebi. recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant, in the 80s and 90s his work continued to mature, with the avant garde ideas and out-there forms distilling into a sweet simplicity which hides a lifetime's worth of experience, understanding and technique. he was one of the most prolific of recording artists of the past 30 years, releasing more than 150 albums under his own name, countless appearances and collaborations, with a staggering level of consistancy in terms of quality. Steve Lacy passed away a few years ago.
this series of duo performances with other luminaries released by the FMP label are all from 1996, and is one of my all time favorites - if someone says "desert island" this is one of the first discs I grab. i love this later work more than the wild 70s or the classic 50s and 60s - i feel that during this period he truly reached a pinacle, a zenith, the highest levels of artistic acheivement - a perfect synthesis of invention, expression, and tradition. this is intellectual music as endearing as lullabies, high-art as comfortable as mom's kitchen - extreme refinement and accomplished sophistication at the service of every-day pleasure and contemplation.
a highly individualistic and unmistakable sound, Steve Lacy has claimed inspiration from bird songs, the speech of stuttering children, and the patterns of stars at night.
1. with Marilyn Crispell - Crust
2. with Marilyn Crispell - Blues for Aida
3. with Misha Mengelberg - Off Minor
4. with Misha Mengelberg - Ruby, My Dear
5. with Misha Mengelberg - Evidence
6. with Ulrich Gumpert - Art - Steve Lacy
7. with Fred Van Hove - Twenty-One
8. with Vladimir Miller - Wane