Sunday, January 08, 2017

Straight Horning: Steve Lacy - Clinkers

Larry Gushee Pioneers of Jazz the Creole BandOn Friday I spent some time at the Harold Washington Library writing some emails and working on future blog post ideas. Steve Lacy’s Clinkers (HatOlogy), a live solo recording from 1977 in Switzerland, got three or four spins across the day. While a lot of the time it was accompanying my work, I did dedicate my attention to each individual track at one stage or another over the course of the day (and a little more on Saturday).

The opening couple of riffs from “Trickles” bounced around my head the rest of the evening (the opening of "Coastline" is bit of an ear worm too). Lacy’s style of composition is as personal as his improvising and his tone is second to none. The horn's entire range (and beyond) sparkles with flexibility, color variance and dynamic shifts. Although I listen to Lacy on a regular basis, even when I take bit of a break his music travels with me. As is the case with other favorites of mine (such as Billie & Prez, Connie Crothers, Richard Tabnik, Lee Konitz, Hayden Chisholm, Lennie Tristano) the music has been absorbed in a way that it is always with you. 

And while Clinkers may not be the solo album I would recommend to someone new to Lacy (although that would depend on where they were coming from), I do enjoy hearing him explore some of the outer reaches of the soprano. My mind is a little fuzzy, but it was probably through Lacy that I was introduced to this type of approach to the saxophone. But now that I think about it, I did hear Evan Parker for the first time right around then too, so he likely crossed the line first in my mind, but Lacy had a more immediate impact.

Anyway, It wasn’t that long after I heard Lacy playing solo in the flesh (from memory, he played Ellington & Monk tunes) that I listened to my first solo recording of Lacy’s - Hooky (thanks Craig!)... another live recording. I remember being a bit baffled by pieces like “The New Duck." Not sure how they fit into the music of studying, it stayed on the back burner. But I remained curious, and a little later on I checked out Weal and Woe (thanks Goose!) another live recording... I think there's a pattern here. And now, all these years later, Clinkers and pieces like "Micro Worlds" and "Duck" are more comfortably digested. While I used to focus on trying to make sense of the "odd" sounds coming from his horn, these days I marvel at the way he incorporated them in with conventional playing to create a unified piece.

When it came time to take a break from the computer, I turned to the Larry Gushee's Pioneers of Jazz: The Story of the Creole Band. This has been on my reading list for a while now. Even though I only read the introduction and opening chapter, I have a feeling that I am going to enjoy the rest of it. However, it will have to wait as I'm currently in the middle of another slice of jazz history from later on in the century - more on that later.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

The Return of Sonny Rollins

In the January 4, 1962 issue of Down Beat, Bill Coss announced the return of Sonny Rollins from a two year hiatus. Click on the image to view PDF of the full article (sorry, it's a bit on the dark side). More vintage magazine articles are available here.

Down Beat Magazine Bill Coss