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The Sun by Steve Lacy

In the liners, producer Martin Davidson provides anecdotes, interview quotes and other relevant information surrounding the premise for these vintage tracks, recorded under the leadership of the late soprano saxophone great Steve Lacy.  Spanning previously unreleased and reissued material from 1967 through 1973, Lacy performs with iconoclastic modern jazz artists such as trumpeter Enrico Rava, vibist Karl Berger and others.   And in most instances, the audio processing is quite good as the album offers a comprehensive sampling of Lacy's avant-garde proclivities cast in various ensembles, including eminent synthesizer improviser Richard Teitelbaum who credits Lacy with being his..."first and maybe main improv teacher."  Otherwise, Teitelbaum partnered with Anthony Braxton and other progressive-minded luminaries to extend electronics formats into the freer aspects of jazz and improvisation.

"The Sun" (Hamburg, 1968) gets going with Irene Aebi's poetically lyrical chants atop Lacy and Rava's swarming choruses that forecast a broad musical vista.  This is followed by "The Gap," where drummer Aldo Romano's staggered march progressions and metronomic timestamps for the soloist's terse dialogues amid the hornists' gradually climactic surges into the upper registers. Here, the band conjures imagery of desperation via cries for help, reinforced by Romano's barrelhouse polyrhythmic flurries.  Yet, they lower the pitch back down to a nimble set of improvisational exchanges.

One of the more interesting pieces is "The Way (take 5?)," recorded in 1968 somewhere in Rome.   With this duet, Teitelbaum's streaming analog synth work counters Lacy's organic component and translates into a cleverly enacted dialogue, summoning man and machine preparing for battle.  These attributes continue on "The Way (take 6)," but the artists mimic each other in the lower-registers, treated by sinuously devised abstracts, equating to alien-like communications and touched by Lacy's projection of pathos.

"The Wane" features alto saxophonist Steve Potts, who became a longtime running mate with Lacy, leading to albums for Swiss-based HatHut Records and other European record labels. On this piece, bassist extraordinaire Kent Carter lays out a prominent bass line to help steer the frontline into a subdued gait, built on drummer Oliver Johnson's frothy pulse; thus, leading to an open platform of ideas and reconstructions.  Moreover, Aiebi's cello lines keenly arc the soloists' improv segments, abetted by Potts' spiraling notes engineered with coarse overtones.

The Sun melds the lighter side of improvisation with the chaotic historical course of the era, namely the Vietnam War and the radical social changes witnessed during the timeframe.  It also offer a wondrous account of Lacy's avant-garde persuasions, to complement a wealth of exciting propositions put forth throughout.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Steve Lacy
  • CD Title: The Sun
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2012
  • Record Label: EMANEM
  • Tracks: The Sun, The Gap, The Way (introduction), The Way (take 5?), Improvisation (Numero Uno), The Way (take 6), Improvisation (Numero Due), Chinese Food (Cantata Polemica), The Woe – The Wax, The Wage, The Wane, The Wake.
  • Musicians: Steve Lacy (soprano saxophone *all except #3), Irene Aebi (voice #1,4,6,8,12, cello #9-11), Kent Carter (double bass, #1-2, 9-12), Enrico Rava (trumpet #1-2), Karl Berger (vibraphone, #1-3), Aldo Romano (drum set, #1-2), Richard Teitelbaum (synthesizer #9-12), Steve Potts (alto saxophone, #9-12), Oliver Johnson (drum set #9-12).
  • Rating: Five Stars
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