Sunday, June 23, 2013

Listening From The Past Week

Steve Lacy & Mal Waldron Live at Dreher, Paris 1981: Round Midnight Vol 1. (HatOLOGY)
Lacy & Waldron make an excellent pairing and I don't think I've heard them sounding better than on this two disc set. Waldron accompanies Lacy beautifully - I prefer his accompanying over his soloing. Wonderful versions of 'Round Midnight. I'd love to get hold of Vol.2. Great sounding live recording tops it off.

 Disposability (KCD 1965) trio with Kent Carter (b) Albert Romano (d) recorded in Italy on Lacy's first trip Europe. Though he had led groups without chordal accompaniment (The Straight Horn of Steve Lacy, Evidence, School Days) this seems to be Lacy's first session fronting a trio (please correct me if I'm wrong). Lacy contributes four compositions along with three by Monk and one each by Cecil Taylor & Carla Bley.
At times the soprano takes on an almost flute-like quality in the upper register whilst keeping it's soprano-yness(!) in the lower register.

Early Years: 1954-56 (Freshsound 2004) I find it fascinating (and a treat) to hear early recordings of my favorite players - Lee Konitz with Claude Thornhill, Lenny Popkin at Lennox School, and the two "Young Bird" discs come to mind.  I can't believe it has taken me so long to get around to listening to this two disc set.
Lacy served his apprenticeship in New York City under traditional jazz players such as Jimmy McPartland, Zutty Singleton, Rex Stewart & Cecil Scott. Along with the traditional jazz influence, his playing also shows traces of Lester Young. There are hints at bop too - these are much more evident on the second disc.
It's great to hear him play some clarinet - limited to the ensemble sections on a few tracks on disc one. Lacy focused on soprano exclusively shortly after these first recordings were made.
The overall feel of the recordings is something like "trad meets cool." The arrangements (a few are by Neal Hefti) for the quintets & sextets are nice and in some cases more interesting than the soloists. Another point of interest is the presence of Tom Stewart playing Tenor Horn - I can't think of any other recordings featuring a front line of soprano sax and tenor horn.
A must for Lacy fans, this disc would also make a nice addition to a Blindfold Test.

While I'm on the subject of early recordings - Hayden Chisholm's Circe (JazzHausMusik 1996) made this weeks playlist too. This bold debut recording shows a young artist with vision - did he go out and record an album of (average) originals plus a token standard? No, he explored the world of microtonality and split scales on soprano sax (and a bit of didgeridoo). It never seems long between listens to this album - even if it's just a track or two here and there. 

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