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Mon, 07.23.1934

Steve Lacy, soprano saxaphonist with a range of styles

Steve Lacy

Steve Lacy was born on this date in 1934. He was a white-American Jazz soprano saxophonist.

Born Steven Lackritz in New York City, he started his musical training as a child at the piano. From there he moved on to clarinet, eventually leading to soprano saxophone. He studied with Cecil Scott, and in 1953, went on to Schillinger School of Music (now Berklee School of Music). In 1954 he attended the Manhattan School of Music.

Initially influenced by traditional jazz, Lacy was an advocate of it as a player for many years. His interest in the early jazz of New Orleans, Chicago, and Kansas City was later replaced by collaborations with Cecil Taylor and others in the late 1950s. During this time he also became interested in the music of Thelonious Monk. For most of the year in 1960, Lacy worked with Monk's quintet, following that up with his own quintet with Roswell Rudd, Denis Charles, and different bassists playing a repertoire of mainly Monk compositions.  Starting in 1965, Lacy performed more and more as an international artist with fellow music artist Kenny Drew, Enrico Rava, Karl Berger, and Paul Motian.

Two years later he married Irene Aebi, who would become a group member as a vocalist/cellist/violinist, and the couple moved to Europe.  Lacy moved to Paris in 1970 where he played solo saxophone concerts.

His work has included a variety of media and been performed in a number of settings, including schools, museums, churches, cultural centers, radio stations, and for dancers. He has led a variety of ensembles and has played with top musicians from all over the world.  He was also an important composer, including writing settings for the works of poets. In the early 1980s, Lacy formed what would become his most stable groups with Aebi, Bobby Few, Steve Potts, and Jean-Jacques Avenel.

Some of his recordings over the years include "Spirit Of Mingus" (Freelance, 1991), "More Monk" (Soul Note, 1989), "Anthem" (Novus, 1989), "Morning Joy" (hat ART, 1986), "Trickles" (Black Saint, 1976), "The Forest and the Zoo" (ESP, 1966), "Schooldays" (hat ART, 1963), "Reflections" (OJC, 1958).  In 2002 Lacy moved back to Boston, where he was a New England Conservatory faculty member.

Lacy, a jazz master who once defined his profession as "combination orator, singer, dancer, diplomat, poet, dialectician, mathematician, athlete, entertainer, educator, student, comedian, artist, seducer and general all around good fellow," died on June 4, 2004 at the age of 69, survived by his widow, Irene.

Reference:
Jazz People
by Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, New York
Copyright 1976
ISBN 0-8109-1152-3

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