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Let's Call This...Esteem GRUPPO/ARTISTA: Steve Lacy
ALBUM: Let's Call This...Esteem
ETICHETTA: Silta Records
DATA: 2009

Clicca e ascolta 30 sec. di ogni traccia dell'album:

01 Introduction Lets Call This.mp3
02 Monks Dream.mp3
03 In a Sentimental Mood.mp3
04 Snake Out.mp3
05 Blues for Aida.mp3
06 Johnny Come Lately.mp3
07 What It Is.mp3
08 Evidence.mp3
09 Epistrophy.mp3
10 Esteem.mp3


Steve Lacy, one of the greatest soprano saxophonists of all time and

a New England Conservatory faculty member since fall 2002, died

Friday [June 4th, 2004] at New England Baptist Hospital. The jazz

master who once defined his profession as "combination orator,

singer, dancer, diplomat, poet, dialectician, mathematician, athlete,

entertainer, educator, student, comedian, artist, seducer and general

all around good fellow" was 69.  He leaves his wife and collaborator,

the Swiss singer Irene Aebi. 

Born Steven Norman Lackritz in New York City, Lacy was the first

avant garde jazz musician to make a specialty of the soprano

saxophone—an instrument that had become almost completely neglected

during the Bop era. Indeed, he is credited with single-handedly

bringing the instrument back from obscurity into modern music of all

types.   He regularly received awards from DownBeat Magazine as the

premier soprano saxophonist and in 1992 received a MacArthur

Foundation “genius” grant. In 2002, he was made a Commandeur de

l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.  A prolific

recording artist, Lacy is represented on many labels including

Universal, Senators, RCA, Verve, Label Bleu, Greats of Jazz, EMI,

CBS/Columbia, and Denon.

Throughout his career, Lacy was widely admired for the beauty and

purity of his tone, for his incisive melodic sense, for keeping his

music uncompromising and fresh, and for his eagerness to play with a

wide variety of musicians while retaining long-term musical

relationships. For example, since 1998, he performed often with

Panamanian pianist and NEC faculty member Danilo Perez, but he also

played regularly with Mal Waldron, a pianist he had worked with since

the fifties. He was esteemed for his productivity, and for the

consistently high quality of his art. As a teacher, a role he took on

in the last two years of his life, he was revered for his intense

focus and generosity.

During the latter part of his career, Lacy made his home in Paris for

33 years, but returned to the United States in 2002 to begin his

first teaching job at NEC.  He was prominently featured in the

concerts celebrating the centennial of NEC's Jordan Hall in October

2003, kicking off the festivities in a Best of Jazz performance that

featured other Conservatory jazz greats like Ran Blake, George

Russell, Bob Brookmeyer, and alumnus Cecil Taylor.

Lacy got his start as a sideman in the early fifties playing in

Manhattan's Dixieland revival scene.   He also worked with some Duke

Ellington players including cornetist Rex Stewart who christened him

“Lacy.” Although he initially doubled on clarinet and soprano sax, he

soon dropped the former instrument and found his distinctive voice

with the saxophone.  It was the NEC-trained Cecil Taylor who set Lacy

on a new course and introduced him to Thelonious Monk—who, along with

Duke Ellington, would remain the most important influence in his

life.  “Playing with Cecil Taylor immediately put me into the

offensive mode” (of music-making), Lacy recalled in his book

Findings: My Experience with the Soprano Saxophone. “This was the

avant-tout garde; we were an attack quartet (sometimes quintet or

trio), playing original, dangerously threatening music that most

people were offended by….” 

Lacy recorded with Gil Evans in 1957 and continued to work with him

intermittently up through the 1980s. In 1958, he and pianist Waldron

recorded Reflections: Steve Lacy Plays the Music of Thelonious Monk,

which led to an invitation to join Monk's quintet for four months in

1960. After that immersion experience, he created a quartet with

trombonist Roswell Rudd that dedicated itself exclusively to Monk's

music. He was still playing Monk as recently as last winter when he

introduced a new quintet at Manhattan's Iridium. Monksieland,

comprised of trumpeter Dave Douglas, Rudd, and Lacy's longtime Paris

rhythm section, bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel and drummer John Betsch,

played Monk with the freedom and contrapuntal interplay of Dixieland


In 1965, Lacy began performing in Europe where he found particularly

appreciative audiences in Italy and France. He met his wife in Rome

in 1966 and by the late sixties, they had settled down in Paris. 

During the enormously fertile decades that followed, he created a

quintet that could expand or contract from a duo or trio on up to a

big band.  He began collaborations with dancers (Merce Cunningham in

particular), artists and actors. He also started working with poets

like Brion Gysin, composing musical settings of their poems.

Irene Aebi exerted a profound influence on Lacy's artistry. For the

woman he called “his muse,” he wrote his first composition, The Way

(1967), based on the words of Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu. He

continued to be inspired by his wife's voice and wrote works for her

based on poetry by Anna Akhmatova, Mary Frazee, Anne Waldman, and

Judith Malina. He wrote an opera, The Cry , with Bengali poet Taslima

Nasreen.   And, over a period of many years, he composed The Beat

Suite, a jazz song cycle based on poetry by Jack Kerouac, Allen

Ginsburg, Robert Creeley, and other beat poets.  That work had its

official world premiere in 2003 and has been recorded on a Universal

CD. As recently as this spring, Lacy and his wife were performing his

settings of Robert Creeley poems and excerpts from the Beat Suite at

MIT and Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art. 

At NEC, 36 students, both graduate and undergraduate, worked directly

with Lacy and he affected many others through his active

participation in the musical community.  In his teaching, he was

concerned with helping students become complete artists.  For

example, he might say of a young player: “He's got imagination, but

he needs to develop his taste a lot more—opera and poetry and

literature and dance. He really needs to broaden his base.”   At NEC,

he felt students could get that broadening. “That's what I like about

this school,” he said in an interview last year.   “…One can cross

the hall and it's not such rigid departments really. Anybody could

study improvisation or Indian music or symphonic construction or


About Lacy, NEC President Daniel Steiner said: “He was an

extraordinary artist, the kind of person who appears only a few times

in each generation of musicians. His presence at the Conservatory

affected not simply the jazz program but the overall musical life of



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