485

Steve Lacy: The Forest and the Zoo

By

Sign in to view read count
Soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy's impressive career was filled with many benchmarks, but 1966's The Forest and the Zoo is surely one of his strongest. Having corrected the erroneous phasing on the original release of the album, this reissue sees the two side-long quartet works sounding better than ever.



Playing no small part in the elastic excitement of these excursions is the able work of Lacy's sidemen. Comprised of an international body of musicians including Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava and the South African rhythm section of bassist Johnny Dyani and drummer Louis T. Moholo, the unit brings a fiercely diverse field of influence to the close working methods explored on these taut improvisatory workouts. Having already played together in The Blue Notes and Brotherhood of Breath, Dyani and Moholo were well versed in each others' style, and slip easily into the sound of Lacy and Rava's front line. That the album is a document of a live performance in Argentina only adds to the worldly nature surrounding the recording.



Broken into two thematic extrapolations, the work functions in a similar manner as Don Cherry's Complete Communion (Blue Note, 1965) effort from a year earlier. The unit displays its impressive capabilities immediately on "Forest," taking off from the lilting theme to explore realms far afield from its starting point. The rhythm section's buoyant support gives Lacy and Rava ample room to sprawl out, interweaving lines with a joyful playfulness not often associated with music so sporadically created.



"Zoo" explores similar territory, applying the same format and approach to a different, more moody theme. Still, the music retains its airy energy, even as it takes off into a more kinetically based freedom. Having fully hit their stride at this point, Lacy's sax squeals around Rava's babbling trumpet while Moholo and Dyani careen around them with abandon. Yet even with this kind of energy, the group never loses any of its fluidity, instantly reacting to one another as the work takes on a shape far beyond the confines of its theme.



While Lacy's work is already well renowned, The Forest and the Zoo is a fine opportunity to hear him and one his strongest ensembles playing at the top of their game. Rather than the liberating spirituality sought after in so much free jazz Lacy's unit remains light-hearted and whimsical, even as it soars above the ground below.


Track Listing: Forest; Zoo.

Personnel: Steve Lacy: soprano sax; Enrico Rava: trumpet; Johnny Dyani: bass; Louis T. Moholo: drums.

Title: The Forest and the Zoo | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: ESP Disk


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Triple Double CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2017
Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Around The Horn" CD/LP/Track Review Around The Horn
by Jeff Winbush
Published: April 16, 2017
Read "Is It Me...?" CD/LP/Track Review Is It Me...?
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 7, 2017
Read "Rediscovered Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 4, 2017
Read "Fusion Machine" CD/LP/Track Review Fusion Machine
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "Songbook" CD/LP/Track Review Songbook
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 7, 2017
Read "The Return of Art Pepper" CD/LP/Track Review The Return of Art Pepper
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 8, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.