Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

440

Steve Lacy: The Holy La

By

Sign in to view read count
This fine trio CD takes its name from something held sacred by musicians: "la," the pitch to which all instruments are almost always tuned. During the course of these nine tracks, soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy and his associates also prove that they can do just anything they want with any variations of "la" and the other degrees of the scale most famously celebrated by Rodgers and Hammerstein in the song "Do-Re-Mi."

During a career that stretches back more than 50 years, Lacy no doubt played many of Richard Rodgers' tunes, but as someone who early on helped define so-called free jazz, for years his sonic references have long gone past common rhythm and show tunes. Indications of this on The Holy la includes Robert Creeley's poetry, Mark Rothko's paintings, African and reggae inflections, plus the music of Alban Berg and, of course, Thelonious Monk.

A Vivid proponent of Monk's music long before it was fashionable, Lacy guides his trio here through a characteristically jaunty version of "Shuffle Boil," as it often does in live shows. Like Monk's quartet aggregations, this version of Lacy's band is almost perfectly aligned—both French bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel and American drummer John Betsch have played with the saxophonist since the mid-1980s.

Also present on two tracks is Lacy's wife, vocalist Irene Aebi. Although often treated by Lacy's fans as a Yoko Ono to his John Lennon, she's more of a distinctive stylist and her voice meshes with Lacy's horn much appropriately than Ono's voice ever did with her husband's. Avenel, whose steady timekeeping is featured throughout, acquits himself admirably however, playing sanza or thumb piano and mixing it up with Betsch's exotic, African influenced percussion on "Clichés," a Lacy composition written for a deceased Guinean saxophonist.

More appropriately, Avenel advances the line and shows off his double stopping skill and pizzicato slides on "Blue Jay," a portrait of Lacy's friend of the 1960s, French bassist Jean-François Jenny-Clark. Consummately modern, Betsch is never showy or in the way, always creating what patterns are needed at the appropriate times and even making something musical out of simple knocking and rolling on "The Door."

What's left to say about Lacy's playing after all these years? The man who gave the soprano saxophone a role in modern jazz, has grown along with appreciation for his instrument and shaped the sound to his requirements - and to others that were probably never imagined until he took up the horn. Familiar with every acre of its real estate from its mellow mid-range to its screeching top notes, his mastery is such that it appears effortless. While he continues to experiment with different sounds and timbres, as he shows on the pieces here, his music is always embedded in the lodestone that continues to define jazz and improvised music.

Visit Sunnyside Records on the web.


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.

Title: The Holy La | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Alleviation CD/LP/Track Review Alleviation
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Last Minute Panic CD/LP/Track Review Last Minute Panic
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Murphy CD/LP/Track Review Murphy
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Haberdashery CD/LP/Track Review Haberdashery
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Song of the Silver Geese CD/LP/Track Review Song of the Silver Geese
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Live at Kolarac CD/LP/Track Review Live at Kolarac
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 18, 2017
Read "The Treasury Shows, Vol. 24" CD/LP/Track Review The Treasury Shows, Vol. 24
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 21, 2017
Read "Thank You For Coming To Life" CD/LP/Track Review Thank You For Coming To Life
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 2, 2017
Read "Ocean of Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 5, 2017
Read "Sinatra & Jobim @ 50" CD/LP/Track Review Sinatra & Jobim @ 50
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 30, 2017
Read "Penumbra" CD/LP/Track Review Penumbra
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 10, 2017

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!