Recorded in 1979, N.Y. Capers & Quirks finds soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy teaming with drummer Dennis Charles who had previously worked with Lacy during stints in Cecil Taylor’s group and the Gil Evans’ Orchestra. Sadly, Dennis Charles passed away in 1998 while the bassist on this date; Ronnie Boykins, died only four months after these live performances took place.
With this new release, the “Steve Lacy Three” provides the modern jazz public with yet another important glimpse of the soprano saxophonist as Lacy, Boykins and Charles perform with frenzied enthusiasm on pieces such as the opener, titled “Quirks”. Supplemented by Lacy’s linear or vertically inclined thematic statements, Charles and Boykins provide a huge and expansive foundation through sweeping rhythmic structures that often dispel circular motion along with an uncanny sense of elasticity or resiliency. Here and throughout, the band pursues a series of sub-plots to the main or recurring motifs supplied by Lacy while Boykins and Charles occasionally mimic Lacy’s heated phrasing whether as soloists or while carrying out the rhythmic underpinnings. The sixteen-minute piece, “Bud’s Brother” features heated dialogue thanks to Lacy’s melodious lines, cyclic phrasing and torrid soloing. On this composition, Lacy instills a sense of melodrama amid the weaving rhythms and the band’s overall perceptive or intuitive interplay. The saxophonist employs circular breathing techniques on “We Don’t” as the rhythm section pushes, prods and accentuates the various movements while imparting somewhat of a kaleidoscopic effect, whereas linear motifs and hypnotically simple themes resume on the final track, “Kitty Malone”.
On N.Y. Capers & Quirks the musicians perform with imaginative sagacity while displaying an acute propensity for communicating a story or two along the way. The “Steve Lacy Three” is an altogether historic glimpse of three superb musicians who utilized technique as a vehicle for stark expressionism during a time when much of the jazz world was succumbing to fusion and market-driven crossover attempts. Yet it was musicians such as Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, and others who were drawing upon their fertile pasts while also pursuing futuristic visions that have encouraged or paved the way for these exciting “jazz” times which continue to unfold. Recommended. * * * *
Steve Lacy; Soprano Saxophone: Ronnie Boykins; Bass: Dennis Charles; Drums
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Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.