Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
A Rare Find
Christopher Forbes | Brooklyn,, NY | 11/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At my local independent music store, the owner recently recieved a load of wonderful used avant-garde recordings, (just another excuse for me to spend money I don't have!) I of course raided the stash immediately. This recording was probably the gem of the lot. It features Lacy in an unusual combination of 12 instruments, playing Lacy compositions of wit and intelligence. This is not a Lacy blowing album. If you want that, get one of his excellent trio recordings. On this recording, Lacy only takes one solo, though it is a lovely thing. Instead, the album is devoted to 5 unusual compositions, each a setting for band and alto/baritone duet of texts in French, Italian or German, by painter/poets as diverse as Appolinaire and Kandinsky. The compositions are intense, straddling the tonal and the atonal...at times reminding one of Lacy's abiding interest in Monk's music, and at times verging on the dense atonality of Schonberg. Each selection features one or two soloists, but gives them extensive space to blow. However, I suspect that the character of each solo is to a large extent predetermined. Most of the solos are created from minimal ideas. A case in point might be the two stunning solos on Torments. The first, by trombonist Glenn Farris takes an ossillating two note phrase that reminds you rather pointedly of the bridge to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and builds a magnificent ediface out of these simple means. This solo is followed by an even more stunning solo by altoist Steve Potts, based on successive interations of a single four-note phrase, played over a shimmering suspended chord in the rhythm section. As Potts pushes the phrase higher and higher the effect is thrilling. The ensemble work is really quite amazing, particularly in the rhythm section. Bassist Jean-Jaques Avenel and drummer John Betsch are regulars from Lacy's trio and percussionist Sam Kelly provide solid foundation. Over this, Lacy layers two pianists and vibes. The amazing thing is how well this dense rhythm section works together. There is amazing space in this playing. Even the two pianists, who create an amazing trio improvisation with Avenel in the third piece, Tracks, never seem to get in each other's way, but play almost as if they are one pianist. This is impressive indeed for improvised music. For some, the presence of vocals may be a sticking point. Irene Aebi and Nicholas Isherwood do not sound like the traditional idea of jazz singers. But if you think of them as coming out of the European caberet tradition instead, then the sound is not so out of place. Aebi has the kind of big chesty voice that calls to mind Edith Piaf or Marlena Dietrich...and Isherwood sounds like Charles Azenvour. My one complaint is that the HatHut liner notes do not include an English translation of the poetry. This would aid immeasurably to an understanding of these pieces. Unfortunately, I believe this CD is out of print. I could no longer find it on the HatHut website. However, it is really worth the effort to track down. Lacy's large group material is rare as it is, and this material is more adventurous than most. Grab it if you can."
Rare Large Group Set by a Genius Modern Musician/Composer
chiavere | Somewhere in the Electronic Ether | 07/16/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This recording (probably soon to go out of print) showcases some of soprano saxophonist/composer Steve Lacy's best large group arrangements of his songs. In some of these large group recordings, the harmonies tend to be a bit more 'conventional jazz', but in the case of 'Clangs', the arrangements sound like something Schoenberg or Webern would have approved. A beautiful sounding recording, featuring both Irene Aebi and Nicholas Isherwood's singing, and a large rhythm section including John Betsch on drums (from Lacy's trio) Sam Kelly on percussion, Sonhando Estwick on vibes, and both Bobby Few and Eric Watson on pianos. The improvisations are amazing (as usual) and as I mentioned earlier, buy it NOW before it disappears forever into the pile of out of print albums....It's a shame that Mr. Lacy doesn't get more of a chance to record/perform in a large group setting (due to funding problems). If you want some great contemporary music that SWINGS, this is for you!! Lacy divides music into two catagories, 'Alive'and 'Dead'. This recording is most definately 'Alive'!!! Highly recommended."