STEVE LACY — Straws (review)

STEVE LACY — Straws album cover Album · 1977 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
snobb
Steve Lacy was probably one of the more prolific soprano saxophone player in jazz. Besides duos (usually with pianist Mal Waldron), and larger ensemble recordings, he also left an impressive collection of solo saxophone albums. Quite often solo saxophone works are considered too "out" or non-accessible listening, but in the case of Steve Lacy's music, this is only partial truth.

Lacy released his first solo saxophone album in 1971 ("Lapis"), which contained an eleven-minute three-movement suite, "Three Pieces From Tao", the seven-minute "The Precipitation Suite" and "Lapis". In 1975, he recorded and released in Japan his first live solo saxophone music album, "Live In Mahandra". Later he will return to this solo format many times, partially using his beloved Monk's material for such unusual interpretation.

"Straws" is one of his early saxophone solo works, recorded and released in Italy on the obscure Cramps label (known by their 70s rock music releases). To be fully correct, "Straws" is a semi-solo album - only on a few compositions does Lacy play real solo saxophone (including opener built around a theme from Vincent Youmans' "Get Happy"). The only other pure saxophone solo composition is a dedication to his wife and fellow jazz artist Irene Aebi. Of the four remaining songs, two are soprano - celesta duos, and two more has Lacy playing along with tape recordings. For one composition he uses a tape with a recorded reeds ensemble testing their instruments, for other - recorded construction noises.

Well known by his lyrical sound, even on the most abstract compositions, on "Straws" Lacy demonstrates excellent balance between experimental and traditional, playing innovative but accessible music. There are some more accessible solo saxophone albums in Lacy's discography, (best start for beginners are his Monk interpretations), but for those with taste to unusual beauty and unique experimental atmosphere of the 70s, "Straws" is the album they must hear. Its not an easy to find release, and was re-issued on CD in 1997 in Italy (on Cramps Records), and in 2007 in Japan(on Strange Days Records).
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