Butch Lacy is an important pianist, but it's a shame that he is not well known and that he is dreadfully under-recorded. He has appeared as a sideman with an impressive list of people, and he served as accompanist to Sarah Vaughan. An American expatriate, Lacy has been living, working and teaching in Denmark for the last 20 years. Butch Lacy solo - But Not Alone
is his first recording as a leader. Recorded live at the Academy Of Music of West Jutland, Denmark, this CD will hopefully introduce Lacy to the wider audience he so deserves.
McCoy Tyner's "A Search For Peace" starts off the recital, setting an introspective atmosphere and inviting the listener along on a private, intimate journey. One is immediately struck by the beauty of Lacy's touch. His sound is something special, and he combines it with an advanced harmonic sense. He makes this jazz ballad sound as if it were a Debussian rhapsody. "Willow Weep For Me" is graced with a Gospel tinge and some deep blues. "Summertime" hangs heavy in the haze of an oppressively hot summer afternoon. Lacy holds a lethargic tempo and makes references to Gershwin's orchestral score.
Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" receives an extended theme and variation treatment. At just over 12 minutes in length, I at first thought this approach didn't quite work. While the virtuoso manipulations to which Lacy subjects the theme were immediately apparent, it seemed to just serve to point out the thinness of the thematic material. I grew fatigued of hearing the theme return. After several listens I was finally won over by the power and concentration of this performance. One should come to this CD with fresh ears, and be willing to immerse oneself in the music completely. The reward is all that this music has to offer.
"I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" comes as a welcome reprieve after the gargantuan "Footprints". Its jaunty mid-tempo swing leads Lacy to some amazing single note soloing, playing all kinds of "hide-the-beat" syncopation games. Even in a relatively straightforward performance like this one, he calls up a striking multitude of textures. The lone original is "Jasmine", a gentle tune that could roughly be described as ECM-ish. "Body and Soul" is the closer, and includes some deliciously crunchy chords.
The live sound of the Steinway piano exquisitely captured. The packaging must also be mentioned - it includes a booklet with wonderful photographs by Janne Klerk, taken in the area around Lacy's home in Djursland, Denmark. The photos just add to the presentation of the music, connecting the aural with the visual.
This is important music from an important artist. I am happy that Butch Lacy's debut is finally here. I regret that it took so long to reach us, but with an extended gestation obviously comes extended development, extended growth. I look forward to his next recording, and I hope is won't be long in coming. This is deeply satisfying music. Highly recommended.