March 1997

Steve Lacy Trio
Bye-Ya
Freelance

The old saw has it that "familiarity breeds contempt." This is often enough true, as each of us can no doubt attest-but in music, think how often the opposite is true. These thoughts come to mind after spending an hour of enchantment with Steve Lacy and his dear friends John Betsch (drums) and Jean-Jacques Avenel (bass and koto[!!]), with Irene Aebi adding vocals on two tracks. The repertoire is typical Lacy-two Monk tunes, and a clutch of Lacy compositions, with spice added by Avenel's "Pi-Pande," on which the masterful bassist's koto work adds warmth and new textures to the trio's invitingly spare palette. Elsewhere, Avenel's empathic bass lines ground Lacy's nonpareil soprano sax in its exquisitely nuanced play in a time frame that the trio knows intuitively. Aebi's vocals may be deemed an acquired taste-but I've acquired it: they seem to fit in perfectly with the texts and their setting, with a straightforward musicality.

Originally published in March 1997
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