Steve Lacy: Flakes




Steve Lacy (soprano sax)


The Window (Soul Note 121 185-2)

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Steve Lacy (soprano sax), Jean-Jacques Avenel (bass), Oliver Johnson (drums).

Composed by Steve Lacy


Recorded: Barigozzi Studios, Milan, July 30 or 31, 1987


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

During the ‘80s, Steve Lacy was probably best known for his work with his sextet, which featured co-saxophonist Steve Potts and Lacy’s better half, Irene Aebi—the latter playing cello and often singing Lacy’s quirky Jazz art songs. For a dose of pure Lacy, however, you can’t do better than the trio music he occasionally recorded, often in the company of bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel. On “Flakes,” Lacy and Avenel are joined by drummer Oliver Johnson, a delightfully sensitive accompanist who was well able to follow Lacy-the-composer’s every plotted course. “Flakes” highlights much of what made Lacy great, not least his tone. Crystalline from top to bottom but especially clear in the upper register, his sound works in perfect tandem with his incisive manner of improvisation. The opening motive—located near the top of the horn’s conventional range—provides thematic material and sets a mood evocative of the composition’s title. Light, dancing, and poetic, the performance is a remarkable exercise in creative empathy. Avenel, in particular, shows a profound affinity for Lacy’s music—more so, perhaps, than any of Lacy’s long-term partners, excepting perhaps Roswell Rudd.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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