Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Solo Lacy - mature & sublime
IrishGit | West Cork | 08/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD was recorded early 1998 when Lacy was 63 in the Paris house where he lived with his wife Irene Aebi (who sings on track 9) until his enforced return to the States (the French taxman was chasing). The CD is in a series on John Zorn's Tzadik label devoted to Radical Jewish Culture, its logo being the Star of David and various Hebrew letters. This surprised me - I new Lacy was Jewish but I never thought he'd lend himself to a seemingly partisan project such as Zorn's. However, it made me listen with new ears, knowing Lacy to be of acute intelligence & sensitivity with not an ounce of carelessness in his now deceased body (he died 4 June 2004 of liver cancer). And indeed, as his mouthpiece got more open & his reed got softer (Otto Link 12* & shaved down Vandoren #1's when I asked him in 1986) he sounded more & more kletzmer - especially so on this album (& believe me it required someone with perfect pitch to control a soprano played with such a combination). The sound is remarkable - softer & more intimate than his piercing tone from the 70s & 80s, & he's more ready to just allow the sound to sound (as Getz did towards his end), actively inviting, emracing & engulfing - no extended forays into improvised sound worlds, just simple medium paced etudes exploring the subtle tonal differences thru the soprano's range & the room's (& his piano's) acoustic. His technique is astonishing. He can leap from the low end (which is generally sharp on a Selmer soprano) into the high altissimo (which is always wayward) with precision & ease - squeezing the notes out of his horn with his beautiful & distinctive attack. It just leaves me wide eyed & smiling in awe. The compositions are all Lacy's - & a wide range of styles he uses are here, from the Parisian Sands suite (one expects an accordian accompanyment) to the cellular complexity of Jewgitive (my favorite - just listen!) to the humour of The Dumps. What distinguishes this recording over the many other solo CD's is the relaxation of the playing - Lacy doesn't overplay here which he often does, especially with an audience present - he has never been a natural performer (too shy & sensitive) & his anxiety can express itself in trying to say & do too much - he can worry ideas & material to death retreating from the act of communication in the process. Thankfully not here though - the home environment obviously suits him.
It seems to me that the quality that has most interested Lacy is roundness - how to make one's creations (creatures?) & one's life (Lacy wouldn't make a distinction) balanced & strong. He has never been interested in extremes for their own sake, but as a means of extending his experience & making him a bigger hearted musician. He has always seen the improvising musician as having enormous responsibility, requiring an education & appetite for learning to match. He once said: "A jazz musician is a combination orator, dialectician, mathematician, athlete, entertainer, poet, singer, dancer, diplomat, educator, student, comedian, artist, seducer, public masturbator, and general all-round good fellow." The insistence of his own daily practice processed new material into a beautiful package - sweet, rich, intelligent, shy, sensitive & generous in the extreme. I think we all miss him.