Recorded in 1979, N.Y. Capers & Quirks
finds soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy teaming with drummer Dennis Charles who had previously worked with Lacy during stints in Cecil Taylor’s group and the Gil Evans’ Orchestra. Sadly, Dennis Charles passed away in 1998 while the bassist on this date; Ronnie Boykins, died only four months after these live performances took place.
With this new release, the “Steve Lacy Three” provides the modern jazz public with yet another important glimpse of the soprano saxophonist as Lacy, Boykins and Charles perform with frenzied enthusiasm on pieces such as the opener, titled “Quirks”. Supplemented by Lacy’s linear or vertically inclined thematic statements, Charles and Boykins provide a huge and expansive foundation through sweeping rhythmic structures that often dispel circular motion along with an uncanny sense of elasticity or resiliency. Here and throughout, the band pursues a series of sub-plots to the main or recurring motifs supplied by Lacy while Boykins and Charles occasionally mimic Lacy’s heated phrasing whether as soloists or while carrying out the rhythmic underpinnings. The sixteen-minute piece, “Bud’s Brother” features heated dialogue thanks to Lacy’s melodious lines, cyclic phrasing and torrid soloing. On this composition, Lacy instills a sense of melodrama amid the weaving rhythms and the band’s overall perceptive or intuitive interplay. The saxophonist employs circular breathing techniques on “We Don’t” as the rhythm section pushes, prods and accentuates the various movements while imparting somewhat of a kaleidoscopic effect, whereas linear motifs and hypnotically simple themes resume on the final track, “Kitty Malone”.
On N.Y. Capers & Quirks the musicians perform with imaginative sagacity while displaying an acute propensity for communicating a story or two along the way. The “Steve Lacy Three” is an altogether historic glimpse of three superb musicians who utilized technique as a vehicle for stark expressionism during a time when much of the jazz world was succumbing to fusion and market-driven crossover attempts. Yet it was musicians such as Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, and others who were drawing upon their fertile pasts while also pursuing futuristic visions that have encouraged or paved the way for these exciting “jazz” times which continue to unfold. Recommended. * * * *