Steve Lacy: Introspection
Steve Lacy (soprano sax)
The Straight Horn of Steve Lacy (Candid CANI 79007)
Recorded: New York, 1960
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
The history of the soprano saxophone's role in jazz has followed a path unlike that of any other instrument. Though horns such as the clarinet and trombone fell into widespread disuse during the bebop era, there were always at least a few players on those instruments who tried to adapt to ongoing stylistic changes, whereas on the soprano there was no one with a new approach after Sidney Bechet until Lacy's emergence in the mid 50's.
This track appears on one of Lacy's most highly regarded early albums. “Introspection” has always been one of Monk's least known compositions, though it is a great example of Monk's ability to achieve a perfect balance of rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic interest while providing a framework that both inspires the soloists and keeps them honest.
At the time of this recording, Lacy. Orr and Haynes were all members of Monk's quintet and the instrumentation here is similar to that of the concurrent quartet that Lacy and Roswell Rudd had, whose repertoire consisted entirely of Monk's music. This album expands upon the Lacy-Rudd concept of exploring a great pianist's music minus the piano by including two pieces by Cecil Taylor as well as three by Monk.
Lacy's solo shows his great gift for thematic development as he combines the use of his own spur-of-the-moment motives with motives derived from Monk's melody.
Charles Davis begins his solo in true Monkian fashion by literally stating the melody, and uses it as a springboard for a lyrical, swinging statement that incorporates Charlie Parker's musical language without lapsing into rote bebop, which to this day is still a lot harder than it sounds.
Reviewer: Kenny Berger