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Steve Lacy: Snips: Live at Environ

Robert Spencer By

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1976. Lacy, long in exile, appeared in a loft in New York. People sat on couches or on the floor to hear him play solo. The music would have been gone in the air were it not for a young man named Jim Eigo. The recording is a bit dodgy here and there - was the tape recorder in his coat? - but the music comes through with remarkable clarity and force.

Here was Lacy exploring the full possibilities of solo saxophone music, from the sheer beauty of the opening "Hooky" and the expansive spirituality of two suites, "The 4 Edges" and the famous and oft-recorded "Tao," to the exhilarating noise effects of what's styled here as "The New York Duck" (cf. "Swiss Duck" on hatART's The Way ) and the bravura resignation of "Revolutionary Suicide."

So you get Lacy in daring, dashing form, chanting "Don't go to school!" for "Hooky" and a Buddhist mantra for "The 4 Edges." He shows his mastery of the horn - his conquest of the horn - in high-register passages throughout (see especially "Coastline (Water)," the third part of "The 4 Edges"). He displays a tenderness and lyricism that are utterly original - they don't make even the slightest gesture to standard balladry or to any other standard "melodic" motifs. (See, for example, "Pearl Street.") He experiments with form, as on "Deadline (Earth)," the fourth of "The 4 Edges," a piece which consists of a motif that's repeated faster and faster until it launches the performer into open space.

The solo soprano saxophone, when played by Steve Lacy, is a musical universe unto itself. The places Lacy goes on these two discs would fill a travelogue. And every inch of the ride is magnificent, involving music.


Track Listing: Disc 1: Hooky / The New York Duck / The 4 Edges / Snips Disc 2: Pearl Street / Tao / Revolutionary Suicide

Personnel: Steve Lacy, soprano saxophone

Title: Snips: Live at Environ | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Jazz Magnet Records


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