|One of Steve Lacys final projects was the December 2002 appearance at the Baden-Baden New Jazz Meeting. He was so excited about this project, he didnt even bother attending Mal Waldrons funeral (someone who was a close musical collaborator for so many years). Some of the material Lacy recorded on the occasion of the New Jazz Meeting was already released on the wonderful Trio x 3 double CD from three years ago. This CD provides an opportunity to re-visit the material purely from a Lacy-centered perspective.
All but two tracks feature a different line-up. Each one has something completely new to offer. Make no mistake, this is Lacy getting as experimental and adventurous as hes ever been. In a quartet with Christof Kurzmann on electronics, Peter Herbert on bass and percussionist Wolfgang Reisinger, he sounds as melodic as ever, while in a duo with turntablist Philip Jeck, hes all out flying. The ten minute piece features a wailing Lacy on soprano doing loops around Jecks complementary record collection thats put into action. Wildly engrossing throughout, the track seems to feature two men who speak in an unspoken agreement.
The solo Lacy track is a wonderful reminder of a man who gave us so much great solo work to reminisce over, while his trio with Philip Jeck and electronics whiz Bernhard Lang is an engaging exercise in what jazz could be if it stepped outside of its own clichéd box once in a while. Whats more surprising is just how unobtrusive the electronic quotient is on the record. Sure its evident, but the way Lacys playing is extrapolated and meshed with all other instrumentation makes one think these were true professionals. Every player was treated on par with the other. Rarely have I heard Lacy this engaged in a project. Rarely is it possible to hear someone this late in their lifespan produce music that is both touching, engaging and totally uncompromising. If anything, I predict Waldron will forgive his old pal for not paying his last respects at the funeral.
Tom Sekowski March 2007