The Steve Lacy Trio with Jean-Jacques Avenel and John Betsch has been touring around the country for a few years now, purveying a stylish cool that contrasts interestingly with the trio on this disc: Lacy with bassist Ronnie Boykins and drummer Dennis Charles. This disc, recorded in 1979, captures Lacy during a freer, more fiery period. Boykins, who never got the recognition he deserved for his ground-breaking work on bass in the Sun Ra Arkestra, and Charles, a legendarily incendiary drummer, spur Lacy on to heights of saxophonic fury that are purely and utterly delightful.
That's not to say that this is a completely different Lacy. From the first moments of "Quirks" his uniquely and deeply harmonic approach is abundantly in evidence. This is a man who plays the changes, plumbs the changes, captures and dissects the changes, wears the changes, eats the changes for lunch. And he does so here, on every one of these five tracks, even as his sax moos lustily and Charles and Boykins churn behind him.
The extended "Bud's Brother" is, at least in part, a fractured march that shows off Charles' astonishing ability to stay with and support a soloist. Like "Capers," which follows it, it makes dramatic use of repetitive motifs, and is full of Lacy's dry and stick-to-your-ribs melodicism. "We Don't" is a playful duel between Lacy and Charles that spins into unexpected regions.
Boykins gets his moment with his eerie and highly affecting bowing on "Kitty Malone," which recalls some motifs from Lacy's extended piece "Remains." But all three play excellently throughout. We owe a debt of gratitude to Hat Hut Records for giving us this monument of a great and sparsely-recorded trio.
Steve Lacy, ss; Ronnie Boykins, b; Dennis Charles, d.
Quirks / Bud's Brother / Capers / We Don't / Kitty Malone.