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Mon, 07.23.1934

Steve Lacy, Saxophonist born

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 the Schillinger School of Music (now Berklee School of Music). In 1954 he attended the Manhattan School of Music.

Initially influenced by traditional jazz, Lacy advocated for 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 up with his quintet with Roswell Rudd, Denis Charles, and different bassists playing mainly Monk compositions.

Starting in 1965, Lacy performed increasingly as an international artist with fellow music artists Kenny Drew, Enrico Rava, Karl Berger, and Paul Motian.  Two years later, he married Irene Aebi, who would become a vocalist/cellist/violinist group member, 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 has been performed in several settings, including schools, museums, churches, cultural centers, radio stations, and for dancers. He led various ensembles and 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 his most stable group 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.

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

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