|This synthesis of jazz, composition and electronic music was made possible above all by Steve Lacy’s extraordinary openness, which – as he himself said – has often brought him together with musicians whose roots are not in jazz. Steve Lacy was a searcher to the very end. We are going to miss Steve Lacy’s overwhelming passion for sonic exploration.
– Reinhard Kager
Perhaps it’s the persistent remnants of a post-post-New Year’s hangover, but I had a difficult time deciphering the particulars of this disc. It appears to be an extension of an earlier Hat release with the same title attributed to a cross-disciplinary group called Triox3. I’ve not heard that release, but the music here speaks persuasively to a perspective long held by certain eai listeners that parceling parts isn’t nearly as relevant as paying close attention to the sum. Even with this precept in mind, the jazz listener in me couldn’t help but attempt such taxonomy and the notes to this release, while somewhat convoluted, do contain clues.
Three trios --the first comprising classically trained saxophonist Marcus Weiss, flautist Philippe Racine and pianist Paulo Alvares; another of Steve Lacy, bassist Peter Herbert and drummer Wolfgang Reisinger; and the last containing turntablist Philip Jeck and Christof Kurzmann and Bernard Lang on electronics-- approached a composition of Lang’s from different vantage points. The “classical” trio recorded a source version of piece, which the electronics trio then sampled. Several days later, the Lang-led group convened in Baden-Baden with Lacy’s trio. The two groups performed in concert using the original composition and source recording as grist for new improvisation, in a sense, creating a real-time remix. This disc contains more material from the dates, though it’s not entirely clear what has been subsequently “remixed” and what hasn’t. In addition, for some curious reason, the classical trio goes unnamed on the cardboard sleeve.
At the time of these sessions, Lacy’s days were numbered and he knew it. Testament to his commitment to the project comes with the mention of his foregoing Mal Waldron’s funeral to attend the rehearsals. His playing here is a primary draw and the decision to place his name in the pole position isn’t an arbitrary one. His snaking lines sound slightly strained and diffusive in places, but the melodic and rhythmic veracity at their core interacts assiduously with the earlier sampled segments of Lang’s composition. Herbert and Reisinger also adapt beautifully to the mixed-media environments, supplying as much convention-emancipated color and texture as their electronics oriented colleagues.
The disc’s six pieces cover a variety of configurations from warmly rendered, if somewhat winded solo Lacy to three quartets joining his trio with either Lang or Kurzmann’s electronics. As compelling as larger ensembles like the nearly 16-minute “dw 1.2 remix 10.2” are, “dw 1.2 remix 7.4” and “dw 1.2 remix 7.7” are arguably the most alien and engrossing. The first juxtaposes the dry spiraling peregrinations of Lacy’s horn against a dual backdrop of looped electronics and turntables while the second pares down to just Lacy and Jeck for a ten-minute duet that sounds uncannily like a vintage Sun Ra space jig and contains some of the saxophonist’s most complex exposition of the date. Curiously enough, those two pieces were previously released on the earlier Triox3, but even with the recycling of material, this set still has plenty of vibrant music to recommend it. Lacy was pushing his own personal creative parameters up until the very end.
~ Derek Taylor