Having established his reputation as an insightful interpreter of Monk in the late '50s and early '60s, soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy drew political attention with his 1973 anti-Vietnam suite The Woe. Adding to his continuum of political song-cycles, Lacy collaborates on his new epic work The Cry
with Bangladeshi activist Taslima Nasrin. Nasrin's '93 novella Laija
was banned in Muslim Bangladesh for its subversive feminist content. After the publication of her novel, several fatwas were issued against Nasrin. Following her indictment for crimes against Islam, she fled to Stockholm, where she lived in hiding under 24-hour police protection.
Lacy discovered Nasrin's poetry by accident in the New Yorker, then met Nasrin in person in Berlin in 1996. The product of their artistic collaboration is yet another Lacy song cycle, which he would prefer to term "a jam opera." On The Cry, Nasrin's texts are brought to life by the powerful vocalist Irene Aebi, along with accompaniment by Lacy and six other musicians, ranging from baroque harpsichordist Petia Kaufma to world-beat accordionist Cathrin Pfeifer, to Indian-trained reedist Tina Wrase.
The Cry brings together many different cultures from all over the planet, but Lacy's enlightened leadership somehow makes it work. Lacy's compositions favor ensemble lyricism, allowing the development of parallel improvised lines. The Cry achieves a delicate balance: it's open enough to hold the listener's interest, but focused enough to be musically and lyrically compelling.
Personnel: Steve Lacy: soprano saxophone; Irene Aebi: voice; Tina Wrase: soprano and sopranino saxophones, bass
clarinet; Petia Kaufman: harpsichord; Cathrin Pfeifer: accordion; Jean-Jacques Avenel: bass; Daniel "Topo" Giola: