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Lift the Bandstand

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Steve Lacy
Lift the Bandstand
Rhapsody Films
UPC UPC# 7 45475 8043 3
1985, issued on DVD 2005

Peter Bull's great film (originally released in 1985) is comprised mostly of performance and interview footage done at the Public Theatre in 1983. It's a solid and intelligent presentation of Lacy's life, thoughts and music, mostly with his sextet at the time, including saxophonist Steve Potts, vocalist Irene Aebi, bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel, pianist Bobby Few and drummer Oliver Johnson. The film proceeds in a subtle and smart way, beginning with Lacy playing Monk's "Evidence in a room by himself, through him talking about the tip that Monk gave him ("Let's lift the bandstand ), through Lacy's sextet playing his "Prospectus (which is essentially a sightseer's prospectus in French), and ending with a complete performance of Lacy's "Gay Paree Bop. The end result is an excellent balance of structure with the spontaneous excitement of the Lacy performances.

In the biographical part of the film, Bull lets Lacy do all the talking; you never hear Bull asking a question and this is great because Lacy is an articulate spokesman not only for himself but for all artists coming to grips with larger issues of direction, self-education and environment. Bull's role however is great because when Lacy speaks of his work with Gil Evans, for instance, he puts in rare footage of the Gil Evans Big Band while Lacy's voice continues the narrative.

Lacy died in 2004, so it is great to have this film re-issued in order that Lacy's music lives beyond his physical life—as he set to music in "The Way —"vitality cleaves to the marrow, leaving death behind. Lift the Bandstand is a great document and a must have for Lacy fans, but also strongly recommended to anybody in the arts, as a touching portrait of an artist; his life, his times and his work.

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