Monday, November 27, 2006

Steve Lacy - Esteem: Live in Paris, 1975 (Atavistic UMS, 2006)

During his lifetime, soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy was one of the most prolific of all jazz musicians, releasing many records and CDs on a variety of labels. Upon his passing a few years ago, his wife and collaborator Irene Aebi planned to release a series of archival recordings culled from Lacy's own collection of cassette recordings. This inaugural release was recorded during a live performance in Paris in 1975 with the group featuring Lacy on soprano saxophone, Aebi on cello and violin, Steve Potts on alto and soprano saxophones, Kent Carter on bass, and Kenneth Tyler on drums. The music comes from one of Lacy's most productive and creative periods, and it's interesting to hear the compositions, which are quite spacious in their studio versions, transformed into raucous freewheeling improvisations. Lacy and Potts make for a potent saxophone combo, battling for space and collaborating on themes. Aebi and Carter support the reed players admirably while making solid contributions of their own to the freer sections. Tyler keeps the music moving at a brisk pace throughout sounding particularly good on Lacy's Jimi Hendrix tribute "The Uh Uh Uh." The only caveat with this very good release is the sound quality. While not bad, it does lack the quality of a professional live recording. It is easy to look past this however, for music of this high quality. For fans of adventurous improvisation, this release is definitely worth hearing.

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