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Artist Profiles

Steve Lacy's Japan Tours: 1975-2004

By Published: February 15, 2006
As stated in my first article about Steve Lacy and Japan, there is a great deal of mystery about his deep inner connection with Japan, and I reiterate that it should remain that way. Yet, his recorded output during his 12 completed tours is so important—in terms of the music, not in terms of the number of albums released—that it deserves being documented, sticking to facts if nothing else. Unsurprisingly, in line with the aura of mystery that prevails, even this has proven an arduous task.

Indeed, gathering all the information presented here has not been easy. Confirmation of some simple facts, even from very reliable sources, was at times like trying to find gold nuggets in a mysterious and (since) vanished river: when we thought all had been filtered, and a concrete "yes was within reach on one particular piece of information, that little precious piece slipped between our fingers or suddenly became questionable, something totally befitting the Steve Lacy enigma.

The more we dug into our search, the more it felt like some of his own improvisations: when you thought you had "got it, Lacy's sonic trips took a path you could not have anticipated. Actually, all of this seems to match the principal character traits linked with his birth date, qualified as "the uncertainty resolver (if one is to believe in that kind of link), quote: "July 23 people are basically traditionalists, and no matter how far out some of their views may be, they remain firmly rooted in conservative traits. Whatever their area of interest [...] they seek to know as much as possible in order to erase uncertainties. (The Secret Language of Birthdays, Gary Goldschneider, Viking Penguin, 1994). Rather intriguing...

The purpose here is simply to put in one condensed package all available information about a very important aspect of Lacy's partnerships, interests and outputs "over there during 29 years of his life. Although a number of specific details remain unavailable (as of December 2005) despite a long, time-consuming research, both I and the international jazz community owe a lot to the assiduous help and dedication of a wonderful Japanese friend—a librarian and a music fan—who wants to remain anonymous. Respecting his humble wish, our gratitude and indebtedness to him are all the more immense. Thanks to his Sherlock Holmes-like talents and his relentless perseverance, the precious information he managed to gather enabled to provide a thorough picture of Steve Lacy's Japanese "associations even if a lot still remains blurry at best about much of his twelve completed tours. As we know, the thirteenth tour—which was to be fully documented with personal notes, photos and filming—was cancelled at the last minute due to his passing in early June 2004.

It is very gratifying to provide the international jazz community with an approximately 99% complete list of facts covering a period of 29 years. To the few of us who have been involved in the research, it is no small achievement. Actually, the best way to present/look at these facts is in a spreadsheet format, whose organized kind of "graphic display reveals links that internet html formatting requirements do not permit. So the summary of all Lacy's tours is presented here as a regular text, with brief comments made about each tour and the inclusion of each released album cover. It is hoped that someone out there holds some of the puzzle's missing pieces as noted and will be kind enough to provide them to us. Thank you! Merci! Arigato!

Note: the presentation herewith follows the sequence:
Date of concert, name of venue, (location / city)* format* and musicians' names. Symbols such as LP1 indicate that the concert was recorded and an album was released (see corresponding number / album cover in each Tour section).

Tour Index
Tour 1 - 1975
Tour 2 - 1979
Tour 3 - 1980
Tour 4 - 1981
Tour 5 - 1983
Tour 6 - 1986
Tour 7 - 1988
Tour 8 - 1989
Tour 9 - 1992
Tour 10 - 1992
Tour 11 - 1995
Tour 12 - 2000
Tour 13 - 2004
List of Musicians

TOUR 1 - 1975

  • June 5: Niigata Kenmin Kaikan (Niigata)* Trio * with Togashi Masahiko, Yoshizawa Motoharu
  • June 7: Nippon Columbia Studio (Tokyo)* Trio - LP1 * with Togashi Masahiko, Yoshizawa Motoharu
  • June 8: Mandara (Tokyo)* Solo & Duo - LP2 * with Yoshizawa Motoharu
  • June 11: Yamaha Hall (Tokyo) * Trio * with Togashi Masahiko, Satoh Masahiko
  • June 16: Silk Hall (Kyoto)* Solo, Duo & Trio - LP3 * with Togashi Masahiko, Yoshizawa Motoharu
  • June 18: Nippon Columbia Studio (Tokyo)* Sextet - LP4 * with Togashi Masahiko, Satoh Masahiko, Yoshizawa Motoharu, Midorikawa Keiki, Ikeda Yoshio
  • June 19: Tokyo Yomiuri Hall (Tokyo) * Sextet - LP4 * with Togashi Masahiko, Satoh Masahiko, Yoshizawa Motoharu, Midorikawa Keiki, Ikeda Yoshio
  • June 20: Shimomatsushi Shimin Kaikan (Yamaguchi)* [Quartet or?] * with Takagi Mototeru, Toyozumi Yoshisaburo, Yoshizawa Motoharu
  • June 22: Fukuoka Seinen Bunka Kaikan (Fukuoka)* [Quartet or?]* with Takagi Mototeru, Toyozumi Yoshisaburo, Yoshizawa Motoharu
  • June 23: Nagoya Yamaha Hall (Nagoya)* Trio * with Togashi Masahiko, Yoshizawa Motoharu
  • June 24: Nippon Columbia Studio (Tokyo) * Trio - LP/CD5 * with Takahashi Yuji, Kosugi Takehisa

Comments: This first adventure in Japan was without a doubt the most daring and astonishing of all. Of the five splendid albums produced, only Distant Voices made it (so far) to CD reissue under Takahashi Yuji's name...
Much desired by collectors, these LPs are a bit like Van Gogh's stunningly colorful paintings: Steve Lacy did not sell many, but... both albums and prices are today flying way-up there in the sky...if you can find one! It's amazing music.

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