Steve Lacy: Work




Steve Lacy (soprano sax)


Soprano Sax (Prestige P-7125)

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Steve Lacy (soprano sax), Wynton Kelly (piano), Buell Neidlinger (bass), Dennis Charles (drums).

Composed by Thelonious Monk


Recorded: Hackensack, NJ, November 1, 1957


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

A mere three or four years before the recording of Soprano Sax, the teen-aged Steve Lacy had been a Bechet-enthralled Dixieland soprano saxophonist and clarinetist. A subsequent association with Cecil Taylor opened his eyes and ears, and by 1957 he'd ditched the clarinet and was playing soprano full-time in the most modern contexts. This take of "Work" was a precursor of Lacy's eventual preoccupation with Thelonious Monk, an interest that would soon lead to the formation of a group (with trombonist Roswell Rudd) that played only Monk tunes. Lacy is accompanied here by two cohorts from the Taylor band—bassist Buell Niedlinger and drummer Dennis Charles—and a ringer on piano: sideman-to-the-stars Wynton Kelly. The music swings hard, with the rhythm section laying down solid if conventional backing. Lacy is, of course, the wild card, his laconic take on bop harmony and phrasing unlike anything that had been played on the soprano. Only 23 when this was recorded, Lacy's most productive years as a great composer and improviser were ahead of him. As an example of the soprano sax emerging as a legitimate modern jazz vehicle, however, this is an important document.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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