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The Whammies: Play the Music of Steve Lacy, Vol. 2

The Whammies’ second helping of Steve Lacy interpretations, recorded about a year after the first batch, has a more outwardly exploratory quality than its exuberant predecessor. But the results are equally enjoyable, as you would expect from a superb group of far-flung but close-knit Lacey-ites including alto saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra, pianist Pandelis Karayorgis and bassist Nate McBride (from Boston), drummer Han Bennink and violinist Mary Oliver (from Amsterdam) and trombonist Jeb Bishop (like McBride a key member of the Chicago scene who has moved back to his native soil, in Bishop’s case North Carolina).

Though bookended by the tonally thrusting “Skirts” and a live-sounding take on “Shuffle Boil,” one of many Monk tunes Lacy spent a lifetime investigating, Vol. 2 spends much of its time playing the inner angles of the music. Oliver and Karayorgis engage in an exquisite interlude on “Feline,” and Dijkstra and Karayorgis, both explosive players, create a haunting moment on “Art,” which Lacy based on a Herman Melville poem. The pianist performs “Wickets,” dedicated to Bobby Timmons, unaccompanied, while Dijkstra overdubs saxes to lyrical and hard-hitting effect on “Saxovision.” Bishop’s stirring Ellingtonian solo on “Pregnant Virgin” is another highlight.

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