10 Of Dukes + 6 Originals


« If it was necessary to remind anyone of the importance of Lacy’s roots and indebtedness to the Tradition, modeling it into a truly “Lacyan” vocabulary, there it is. The two sets of his solo performance were simply stunning. »

« The first set, announced by Lacy as "Ten of Dukes", turned into a magnificent demonstration of Lacy’s knowledge of classical jazz and daring improvisational palette. Each piece had a very different flavor, yet keeping the spirit of the original composition. In a Mellow Tone was just that, mellow and gracefully flowing. The Mooche was dismantled, “décortiqué”, keeping the burning fire of the Sidney Bechet version, which inspired Lacy to pick-up the soprano in the first place! Probably no one has heard a Prelude to a Kiss like this one before: a majestically controlled warp (up and down) of five notes (!) without ever moving a finger, all in the breath and lip control of the reed… Amazing. Azure was played entirely– theme and solo – very quietly, with an impressively controlled blur and flutter of the tongue and throat. Astonishing. In contrast, Cottontail swung in the pure tradition, while Koko was splendidly dissonant and crazy, Lacy blowing in reverse from the soprano bell to extract some weird “African” sounds and other sonic inventions. The concluding piece, To the Bitter was paradoxically sweet like a ripe fruit, at time played with the left hand only (all notes being in the upper register of the horn) a much welcome relief from the preceding craze, and a smart way to smoothly end an outstanding set.

The second set featured Lacy’s own material only. Art, based on a poem by Herman Melville, had some Japanese scale connotations, which the audience could easily relate to. Despite the analogy to Monk’s famous tune, Round about Midnite is in fact a recent Lacy composition [since renamed On a Midnight Kick], but a very different tune altogether. Wave Lover, also fairly recent, was all transparent, very delicate with its halftone blowing, like a whisper, which reminisced some of Tina’s Tune chords and emotions. The last piece, Traces, with its powerful words from 17th century philosopher / poet Ryokan,

“We meet only to part,
Coming and going like white clouds,
Leaving traces so faint
Hardly a soul notices”,

appropriately gave a concluding Japanese flavor to Lacy’s admirable and masterful solo performance. »

Gilles Laheurte (excerpt from the concert chronicles)