Butch Lacy / Jesper Løvdal / Kresten Osgood / Mark Dresser: Being Playing

Jakob Baekgaard By

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The reason why it is so important to musicians and listeners alike that records are released is that they are artistic statements, but also because they document the development of the musicians. Sometimes, when a musician releases very few records, the release of an album becomes an event and a rare chance to catch up with the musical language of the artist. Such is the case with the album Being Playing that shows the transformation of the eminent pianist Butch Lacy.

Before he moved to Denmark to enrich the musical environment as a teacher, composer and pianist, Lacy had played with the famous jazz singer Sarah Vaughan in her trio. His credentials also include recording with trumpeter Chet Baker and saxophonist Lee Konitz, but he has also been caught solo on the beautiful Solo -but Not Alone (Stunt Records, 2003). That particular record, which showcased Lacy's superb command of the standards, for instance on a symphonic reading of "Summertime," was an all too rare chance to hear him on record. However, here he is again as a part of a vibrant collective with prolific Danish drummer Kresten Osgood, saxophonist Jesper Lovdal and an old friend, experimental bassist, Mark Dresser.

Being Playing consists of four compositions that all run for at least ten minutes, with the opener, "Wizard of Os," approaching the twenty-minute mark. These extended frames allow the musicians to stretch out, but this is not music that is particularly interested in regular swing or jamming, although the concluding composition, "Playing," all the sudden starts to swing in a conventional manner with walking bass.

As a whole, the music is far from conventional. This is a chance to hear Lacy in avant-garde mood as he explores intervals, percussive patterns and clipped phrases with echoes of blues. Løvdal is just as curious, changing between the deep sound of the contrabass clarinet, tenor saxophone and alto flute playing that brings to mind the sound of reed player Yusef Lateef, with whom Osgood has also played in the strongly recommended The Universal Quartet.

Throughout the record, Dresser is a fountain of elastic sound as he bends the strings and make them bounce as rubber bands while Osgood keeps the rhythm simmering. The result is music that does not try to please with its knotty structures, but has a poetic quality and a rhythmical, vegetating drive that slowly grows and blossoms into a beautiful and strange flower.

Track Listing: Wizard of Os; Lacy Dresser; Being; Playing.

Personnel: Butch Lacy: piano; Jesper Løvdal: alto flute; tenor saxophone; contrabass clarinet; Mark Dresser; bass; Kresten Osgood: drums.

Title: Being Playing | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: ILK Music

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