|A proper dance music, for a skeleton in a tomb!
(Steve Lacy, about "Remains" - liner notes)
Recorded in 1991
|The TAO Suite:||Steve Lacy|
|6/||Life On Its Way||2:49|
Recorded on April 29 & 30, 1991 at Radio DRS Zurich. Engineer: Peter Pfister.
Cover painting: Zao Wou-Ki (1983). Cover art: Walter Bosshardt.
Producers: Pia & Werner X. Uehlinger.
The Tao cycle (Existence, The Way, Bone, Name, The Breath, Life On Its Way), is a work that I have been pursuing for more than 20 years. Based on a 2000 year old chinese text, Tao Teh Ching by Lao-Tzu, translated into clear english by Witter Bynner in the 40's, I set 6 of the pieces to music in the late 60's, and have been busy reworking them, since. In the 70's we elaborated this music further, and performed it in many different settings, recording it several times, as a solo, or as a group piece, with and without the words. Here then is my current view of this work (sti ll in progress), in a solo context.
Pearl Street is another old story. Sketches, scenes, souvenirs of New York late 50's, it was written in '72 and dedicated to Arnold Schoenberg.
Remains, composed '91 as a "commande d'état" from the french ministry of culture, for an original music for the dancer, Pierre Droulers. The starting point was the drawing by James Ensor, "My portrait in 1960", which was done in 1880! The music explores the nature of decay by means of iteration, reiteration, deterioration, disintegration, obliteration, so as to make a proper dance music, for a skeleton in a tomb!
Pierre and I have performed this piece, quite a few times, in France, Italy and Belgium (the choreography is amazing), the sax part is quite difficult to play and contains much fixed material, as well as three sections, which are improvised, within very tight confines. Remains is dedicated to the late italian sculptor, Giacomo Manzu, who created the famous "Death's Doors" on St Peter's cathedral in Rome.
Afterglow is a kansas city style blues in Bb, inspired by the great pianist and band leader, Jay McShann and is one of a series of pieces written in the early 80's, called "Luminaires".
Epistrophy is Thelonious Monk's deathless classic. When I worked with him for 16 weeks (Jazz Gallery, New York) in 1960, we played every night 4 sets, sometimes doubling 3 shows in the day at the Apollo Theatre. Epistrophy ended every set as it was Monk's theme, so we played it hundreds of times and Thelonious always treated it (and every piece) as 'brand new', never failing in his solo to come up with something l'd never heard him play before. What a thrill!
Improvisation (play) is, of course, a vital part of all the living arts. Zao-wou-ki, who also lives in Paris is one of the greatest living masters of improvisation in the world of painting and drawing.
Steve Lacy (liner notes - december 1991)