• 1. MOMS (07:52)
  • 2. POPS (06:15)
  • 3. THE KISS (09:39)
  • 4. TOTS (10:45)
  • 5. THE LADDER (05:41)
  • 6. FRUITS (11:59)
  • 7. COOTS (07:39)
  • 8. THE WIRE (05:02)
  • 9. FOLLIES (06:49)
  • 10. THOUGHT (06:19)
  • 11. WICKETS (07:26)
  • 12. SWOOPS (04:40)
  • 13. STAND (07:43)
  • 14. JUMP (06:55)
  • 15. FALL (06:22)
  • 16. HEDGES (07:03)
  • 17. SQUIRREL (07:03)
  • 18. FOX (09:51)
  • 19. RABBIT (08:10)
  • 20. SHAMBLES (04:36)



Soprano Saxophone – Steve Lacy

Solo saxophone performances of three of Lacy's rarest cycles. The eight-part SHOTS (Moms / Pops / The Kiss / Tots / The Ladder / Fruits / Coots / The Wire) comes mostly from a 1977 Roman concert, with a couple of missing pieces taken from other contemporaneous performances. The only other complete (duo) release of this cycle was on a long deleted (Musica) LP. The rest of this 2-CD set comes from a 1980 solo recording session and concert in the lively acoustics of an old church in Porrentruy in Switzerland. Four individual pieces (Follies / Thought / Wickets / Swoops), two of which have not appeared anywhere else, were given excellent readings. The then newly written SANDS trilogy (Stand / Jump / Fall) was given a definitive performance some 18 years before the hitherto lone issued version. Finally the rare HEDGES sequence (Hedges / Squirrel / Fox / Rabbit / Shambles) was performed with a dancer. Of the 148 minutes on these two CDs, only the 37 minute HEDGES has been previously released (on a long out-of-print hat ART LP).

Excerpts from sleeve notes:
The eight pieces that comprise Steve Lacy's SHOTS cycle were composed from 1972 to 1974. They appear to have coalesced into a cycle around 1976 – I can remember Lacy performing this sequence at his second solo concert in New York City around 1977. However, this cycle didn't stay in his active repertoire for long, although Moms, Pops, The Kiss and The Wire were heard in stand-alone situations earlier and later, unlike the other four pieces which seem to have vanished from sight.

The whole cycle was performed solo, and nearly all of it recorded, in Paris late 1976. Further listening revealed that a version made in Roma a year later is much more lively, so I opted to use that. However, there are two major problems with this Roman concert recording. One is that it was recorded on a cassette recorder with Automatic Gain Control, resulting in me having to spend many hours reducing the volume of each pause and its ensuing note to overcome the undesirable effect. The other problem was that Tots and The Wire were not on the tape – they presumably were performed, but fell off the end of the cassette sides. So I used The Wire from the earlier Paris concert, and took a superlative Tots from a Köln concert, that also produced the version of Snips used on AVIGNON AND AFTER – Volume 2 .

1974 performances of Moms and Pops were included in the aforementioned solo CD, where it was pointed out that these two portraits were of the parents of both Irene Aebi and Lacy. The Kiss, dedicated to Maurice Ravel, was built around a little poem (not heard here) found in a very strange garden near where I lived in south-east London. This version of Tots is an extraordinarily well developed performance of the piece dedicated to Claude Debussy.

The Ladder is a self-explanatory composition dedicated to Joan Miro, that demonstrates Lacy's soprano saxophone range. Fruits, dedicated to Edgard Varese, is a major performance covering a considerable territory, whilst Coots explores various extended techniques, and ends up being somewhat humorous as does some of the the music of Charles Ives. A metronome is used to accompany The Wire which is for Albert Ayler. This mainly explores the upper registers.

Porrentruy is a small town west of Basel on the Swiss side of the border with France. The idea of recording in the acoustically magnificent church there was to produce enough solo material for a two-LP set. The afternoon session, without an audience, was used to record four individual pieces, and the three-part SANDS cycle. The evening was replete with an audience, who witnessed HEDGES performed as a duo with the dancer Pierre Droulers, and another version of SANDS.

Lacy preferred the afternoon version of SANDS which is what is heard here. Shortly after the session, it was decided to issue a two-LP set called BALLETS made up of HEDGES and a sextet version of 4 EDGES, meaning that none of the other solo material has been released until now.

Personally, I think the four stand-alone pieces are all worthy of issuing, especially as there are no other recorded versions of the introverted Thought and the magnificent Swoops which is dedicated to the leading jazz bass player, Oscar Pettiford.
Prior to this CYCLES release, the only published solo version of SANDS was that recorded in 1998. This 1980 version, performed soon after the music was composed, is similar to the 1998 one, but I find it rather more satisfying and stimulating. The suite is based on the words of three of Samuel Beckett's French poems which are not heard here.Given the beliefs of both Beckett and Lacy, this is surely radical secular culture.

Solo playing is very often a way for me to begin the realisation of certain compositions which are too new and difficult to perform as written, until they "age" a while and eventually become playable. "The best tunes are old tunes".
The 5 pieces, called HEDGES were written as duos for sax and piano, but in this version, as a ballet, my partner was the dancer Pierre Droulers.

Squirrel, Fox, Rabbit, are animals which come out of Hedges, and wind up in Shambles, as do we all!

Both the music and the dance were a mixture of practised compositions and prepared improvisation. Of course good complicity with a knowing public is a major factor in an event like this. The idea of "hedging", as in business and gambling, is also present in this work, as well as some of the characteristics of these particular creatures such as economy, cunning, brio, etc.
HEDGES is presented here exactly as performed that evening in Porrentruy, with the dancer's footsteps, audience murmurs, coughing. Everything. However a strictly danced, unaccompanied section of about 3 minutes was removed from the record.

Album label: 
Release date: 
21.10 / 2014
Recording date: 
18.12 / 1980
Recording location: 
Roma 1977 / Porrentruy 1980
Artwork design : Hart Leroy Bibbs / Martin Davidson
Mastering engineer : Martin Davidson
Producer : Martin Davidson / Werner Uehlinger
Recording engineer : Peter Pfister and others

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