• 1. THE BREATH (05:34)
  • 2. STATIONS (06:20)
  • 3. CLOUDY (03:18)
  • 4. LE CANARD NOUVEAU (05:42)
  • 5. JOSEPHINE (05:40)
  • 6. WEAL (04:03)
  • 7. NAME (04:58)
  • 8. THE WOOL (05:52)
  • 9. BOUND (01:43)
  • 10. THE RUSH (01:39)
  • 11. HOLDING (02:16)
  • 12. THE DUMPS (04:28)
  • 13. CLANGS: THE OWL (05:25)
  • 14. CLANGS: TORMENTS (06:29)
  • 15. CLANGS: TRACKS (06:26)
  • 16. CLANGS: DOME (04:59)
  • 17. CLANGS: THE NEW MOON (04:31)

Avignon and After - 1


Soprano Saxophone – Steve Lacy

Highlights from Lacy's first solo concerts in Avignon 1972 featuring pieces like 'The New Duck', 'The Breath', 'Name' and 'Cloudy' that became frequently played, as well as rarities like 'Stations', 'Josephine', 'Weal' and 'The Wool'. In addition to this material that was originally issued as Emanem LP 301 and reissued on CD 4004, this new compilation also contains four more short rarities from the same concerts: 'Bound', 'The Rush', 'Holding' and 'The Dumps'. Finally there is his performance of his somewhat outrageous 'Clangs' cycle from Berlin in 1974 - the first time a solo version of this has been issued. Previous issues of this suite were by a duo in 1976 and a double sextet in 1992. This solo performance is arguably the definitive version. Like the Avignon music, this piece finds Lacy's unaccompanied work at its most adventurous. 79 minutes.

Excerpts from sleeve notes:
The 1972 Avignon concerts were Steve Lacy’s very first solo concerts, although he did make an excellent overdubbed solo record (LAPIS) for Saravah the year before. (For ‘solo’ read ‘alone’ or ‘unaccompanied’ rather than the usual music business meaning of ‘very accompanied’.)

Thanks to an introduction by John Stevens, I first met Lacy when he visited London in 1973. He brought with him some of the Avignon tapes in order to try and interest a record producer to issue this music. However, record producers were generally not then interested in such radical concepts as solo saxophone records. When Lacy played me some of this music, I instantly decided to fulfil a long held ambition to become a record producer.

Lacy revisited London early in 1974 and spent an enjoyable week staying with us (my wife, Madelaine, and me) in order to work on this project as well as having some stimulating conversations. [For example.] He had previously selected the material for two sides of an LP (tracks 1–8 in this collection), which we had copied in his desired sequence on to two master tapes.

Getting the LP pressed was not a pleasant experience as there was a shortage of good vinyl in 1974. The test pressing sounded as though he was recorded in a hail storm – there being no drummer to cover up the noise – but that was the best that could be done at the time.] Also, we received several phone calls from the pressing plant stating that there must be something wrong with the tapes as they could hear some completely different music in the background of one track (STATIONS)! Thus was Emanem born.

Having recently listened to the whole of the two 1972 Avignon concerts, I must say that Lacy chose extremely well, so his original selection has been left intact as the first eight tracks of this compilation. For two of the tracks, JOSEPHINE and WEAL, he decided to combine sections from both concerts. All of the other items on this CD set are complete as performed.

Numerous recordings of THE BREATH, NAME and CLOUDY have been issued before and since. This is the earliest published recording of both THE NEW DUCK, a ubiquitous and multi-named favourite, and the much rarer WEAL. A quintet recording of STATIONS made six months earlier in Lisboa was released in Portugal, otherwise the Avignon solo is the only one to be issued. These concerts contained the only published recordings of Lacy’s JOSEPHINE and THE WOOL.

In delving into the original tapes, it did strike me that there were four short items that could be added to this new collection after Lacy’s selection. Two of these are basically just theme statements of rare originals. BOUND was written to Irene Aebi whose voice he preferred to all others, and originally published on the 1976 solo album STRAWS on Cramps. [You have to get the Japanese version on Strange Days to get a complete reissue.] HOLDING was previously only known on a 1987 trio record with Eric Watson and John Lindberg on Label Bleu. The shortest track, THE RUSH, is actually an excellent complete theme / improvisation / theme performance of a tune that can also be found on a couple of poorly recorded group records made a couple of years later. It certainly lives up to its name.

THE DUMPS, inspired by Jelly Roll Morton, is a tongue-twister of a tune that was played at the 1973 London 100 Club quintet concert, with theme statements that went off the rails. This version stays on the rails, although better versions were to come. Prior to this release, the earliest issued version was the 1977 quintet one on STAMPS on Hat Hut, while the only solo one was on the 1998 SANDS on Tzadik. [Lacy was initially very reluctant to appear in the Radical Jewish Culture series which seems to be based on the specious premise that the Jews constitute a race; he (like me) had had virtually nothing to do with Judaism since he was a teenager.]
The remainder of this CD features the CLANGS cycle recorded nearly two years later in Berlin. Previously, there were just two issued versions of this cycle (although THE OWL and TORMENTS were often performed and recorded as separate pieces). These were a 1976 duo with Andrea Centazzo on Ictus and a 1992 realisation by a double sextet on Hat Art. The 1974 solo version from Berlin included here is surely the definitive reading, with some of Lacy’s most extreme playing on record. The suite starts relatively conventionally with THE OWL which hardly prepares the listener for the surprises to come – the 'heavy breathing' on TORMENTS, the stratospheric birdsong on TRACKS, the pointillist minimalism (with metronome) on DOME, and the rich multiphonics on THE NEW MOON.


Album label: 
Release date: 
01.01 / 2012
Recording date: 
08.07 / 1972
Recording location: 
Avignon (1972) & Berlin (1974)
Artwork design : Pierre Surtel
Mastering engineer : Martin Davidson
Producer : Martin Davidson
Recording engineer : Georg Radanowicz

You might also like

Spontaneous Music Ensemble
Chris Burn
Iskra 1903
Steve Lacy
Iskra 1903