126

Steve Lacy: The Holy La

Jeff Stockton By

Sign in to view read count
Steve Lacy: The Holy La From the first note of The Holy La, you know you’re in the hands of a master. The tone is authoritative, and lower than the high hard sound of the soprano sax we associate with the Coltrane of “My Favorite Things.” The tune is from Monk, “Shuffle Boil,” and the trio, together in one combination or another for the better part of 30 years, demonstrates their affinity for off-kilter rhythms and infallible swing. The Holy La serves as something of a greatest hits package, as the band revisits and reinterprets several compositions from their long collective history.

The selections on the first half of the CD are all less than five minutes each, and the trio makes its statements tastefully and succinctly. The tone of the title track is yielding and Lacy plays in a relaxed fashion as the music sways, while the individual notes on “Flakes” fall like dry snow caught in the gentle throws of a breeze. The tracks get longer with “The Wane” as Jean-Jacques Avenel’s bass holds down the beat with resonant echoing notes and Lacy’s horn moans long and low like a dying siren.

“Clichés” features Avenel on the sanza, a.k.a. kalimba or thumb-piano. John Betsch’s jungle drums persist in the background and Lacy’s part is sinuous and snaky. Vocalist Irene Aebi (Lacy’s wife) guests on two tracks, the more successful of which is “Retreat,” where she sings in her native French and her vocalizing becomes a more natural component of the music. Avenel’s beautifully bowed solo takes off from the original melody and prompts a song-within-the-song, with Lacy’s horn turning almost flute-like. Betsch’s dramatic splash of cymbal ends the track with a flourish.

The Holy La is filled with nervous blues, contrasting textures, and emotional depth. It’s wonderfully recorded, with crisp highs and warm lows in a spacious and airy environment. The music is twisty, with serpentine melodies, its circular nature at times creating a feeling of claustrophobia. You’re not always sure the musicians are going to get out, but they do every time, and you begin to breathe a bit more confidently. The effect is tense, dramatic, and ultimately, very rewarding.


Track Listing: 1. Shuffle Boil 5:32 2. The Holy La 4:13 3. Inside My Head 4:48 4. Blue Jay 3:43 5. Flakes 5:50 6. The Wane 8:58 7. Clich

Personnel: Steve Lacy - Soprano Sax; John Betsch - Drums; Irene Aebi - Vocals; Jean-Jacques Avenel - Bass.

Year Released: 2004 | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Akua's Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Alive" CD/LP/Track Review Alive
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 15, 2016
Read "The Getaway" CD/LP/Track Review The Getaway
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: June 25, 2016
Read "Vanheusenism: A Tribute To Jimmy Van Heusen" CD/LP/Track Review Vanheusenism: A Tribute To Jimmy Van Heusen
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "Cloud Illusions" CD/LP/Track Review Cloud Illusions
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 7, 2016
Read "What Do I Miss" CD/LP/Track Review What Do I Miss
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 10, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!