Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron: Snake-Out
Recorded: Paris, August 14, 1981
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
Mal Waldron's improvised introduction to "Snake-Out" has a distinctly Middle-Eastern air, and Steve Lacy's soprano has a timbre not unlike a snake-charmer's pungi. Might this be an example of program music? Methinks yes, especially when one considers the nature of his written melody, which might plausibly be described as serpentine. In any case, the tune was a staple of the Waldron/Lacy partnership. They recorded it several times—never more effectively than on this lamentably out-of-print Hat Hut album documenting a 1981 live performance in Paris, the expatriate Lacy's adopted home. Lacy could be a very calm, deliberate improviser, disinclined toward blatant displays of technique and emotion. Not here. This is the other Lacy, the Lacy who covered his horn with top-to-bottom displays of virtuosity and soloed with undiluted, Coltrane-like intensity. Waldron meets Lacy's challenge with a like mind, matching the saxophonist's extreme fervor and exalted imagination at every step. Theirs was a long-standing partnership, and a particularly fruitful one, at that. This track and the album from whence it came is one of the finest examples of their combined artistry.
Reviewer: Chris Kelsey