Saturday, April 04, 2009

One of my favorite players with Mingus, such a strong musician. Under his own name, I only have the 1979 Prestige 2fer that combines the Space and Freedom Book albums, recorded in 1963 & '64 with Jaki Byard, Richard Davis and Alan Dawson. Marvelous music here form rough-edged, burr-toned post-hard bop to Coltrane-ish explorations into modal playing. Great Byard, wonderful playing all around.

Ervin died at 40, in 1970....

I'm fairly sure this was among the first ten or twelve jazz albums I ever bought, probably early '73, likely influenced by a 5-star review in downbeat. I never really got into Evans much, ending up with just this and the following record under his own name. But I've found myself humming bits from Svengali many times over the years, I must admit. And it sounds pretty nice this fine Sunday morning. All but one of the tracks are by composers other than Evans (Billy Harper, George Russell, Miles, Gershwin), all of course arranged with great imagination, even the synth work. It's a solid album all the way through but the last track, the sole Evans original "Zee-Zee" is just fantastic, true to its title, a massive, sleeping thing, chest rising and falling, soft breath exhalations, dreaming in the form of Hannibal's trumpet filigree. Really an amazingly beautiful work, one that I almost never hear talked about.

On the other hand, this might be one of the last jazz LPs I bought new (as opposed to older things I'd come upon in the CD era). It's a nice recording, very clear sounding, with the pair tackling some classic Mingus tunes. Maybe a tad too relaxed--Evans was 75 and only four or so months from death, so tough to complain.

When we were dating, I took Linda up to see a solo performance by Lacy at Environ, probably the summer of '78. She still brings this up on occasion as an example of my early aural torture of her and her astonishing forbearance in putting up with me. It was a great show, of course.

I last saw him in an odd situation, in the plaza outside the Seagram's Building on Park Avenue, playing solo. It was part of some concert series, I believe (this was 6-7 years ago?) so there were all these exec types wandering around, sipping champagne. Lacy was his gnarly self, spinning intricate lines off Monk tunes and his own hermetic pieces. The crowd paid little attention, gradually evaporating. Beautiful set.


Down to Philly this afternoon for nmperign/Lambkin/Lescalleet. Will report anon.


Jesse said...

hey brian - nice to see you and chat for like five minutes. hopefully for longer next time!


Gilles Laheurte said...

Yes, Steve played the Tao Suite, solo, under a HUGE Roy Lichtenstein sculpture, on the plaza of the Seagram's building. It was cold and windy. Very few people listened. The date was October 2001.

A pix of Steve that evening: see

Brian Olewnick said...

Excellent, thanks Gilles!

lolabelle said...

Have just had a very enjoyable morning litening to Svengali, I hadn't thought about it in years. going to spend the afternoon with Ornette's Beauty is a Rare Thing.

Chris Mannigan said...

Those few of us on Park Ave listened hard through the traffic noise. Afterward I caught a strong Ellery Eskelin set (with Mark Dresser, Mat Maneri, Erik Friedlander & Matt Moran) in the Old Office. A night that glows in the memory.

Paris Blues is a record I found early in my jazz listening; I still consider it the benchmark for honest conversation.