Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

(Buddhist mantra - Underline)

Recorded in 1976

Steve Lacy soprano saxophone

Ind. Title Composer Dur.
1/ Hooky Steve Lacy 8:40
2/ The New York Duck 5:45
The 4 Edges:
3/ Outline Steve Lacy 5:30
4/ Underline 6:09
5/ Coastline 6:54
6/ Deadline 7:07
7/ Snips Steve Lacy 5:51
1/ Pearl Street Steve Lacy 5:49
Tao Suite:
2/ Existence Steve Lacy 6:01
3/ The Way 4:27
4/ Bone 4:35
5/ Name 5:59
6/ The Breath 5:41
7/ Life on its Way 3:32
8/ Revolutionary Suicide Steve Lacy 5:00

Recorded live at Environ, New York, March 16, 1976 by Jim Eigo.
Mastering: Bob Ward (Current Sound Studios).

Producer: Jim Eigo for Jazz Magnet Records. Executive producers: Jim Eigo, Edgard Moscatelli, Fernando Natalici, Leonardo Pavkovic for Music Magnet Media, Inc.

Cover photos: Ray Ross. Cover concept: Edgard Moscatelli. Art direction + design: Edgard Moscatelli (T Design, NYC). Expert assistance & liner notes: Gilles Laheurte.

Note: cover mistakenly states May 1976 as the recording date, instead of March 1976.

Liner Notes

This is an unusual recording of historical significance. It is Steve Lacy’s first solo concert ever in America. It is also a unique document of a single performance – one night only – so typically representative of the New York City music scene of the mid-1970s. As such, it must be looked at from two different points of view: as an example of the solo format, and as an example of the New York “Loft scene”.

While it is recognized that the solo saxophone format was pioneered by Anthony Braxton (For Alto, 1968), the art of solo reed improvisation truly belongs to Steve Lacy who, still today, openly acknowledges his indebtedness to Braxton’s solo performance at “L’épée de Bois”. This recording is thus one small piece of Lacy’s large puzzle of his “early” solo research process (alas, there are many missing pieces), fortunately documented on several albums: the experimental multi-track studio recording of Lapis (1971), the daring public recording Au Théâtre du Chêne Noir in Avignon (1972), the intimate and very rare Torments and Solo at Mandara (Japan, June 1975), and the uneven Axieme 1 and 2 session (September 1975), which is probably the closest available previous solo public performance given by Lacy before this one, presented to a small New York audience in early 1976. Actually, pretty much like the essential School Days album (1963), it is a miracle that the concert was recorded at all, as such event could have easily taken place unnoticed and gone immediately into total oblivion… In this perspective, the fact that this recording exists largely compensates for its minor technical “difficulties”.

The recording must also be considered in its peculiar musical / cultural context of the time. Indeed, some of the most important music of the 1970s in New York City took place not in concert halls or the traditional commercially–oriented clubs, but emerged in “loft performing spaces”, run in a sort of cooperative endeavor by the musicians themselves. Quite often, the lofts were nothing but the artists’ own homes. As early as the late 1960s, the many “lofts” soon became centers of a uniquely creative music, which could never have interested the major labels with commercial intentions. Among those, Ali’s Alley (Rashied Ali’s place), Studio Rivbea (Sam Rivers’ place), and Environ, located at 476 Broadway, owned by Painter John Fischer (with its great abstract painting serving as a backdrop), certainly remain the most important ones.

The relaxed loft ambience -- the audience could sit on couches / chairs or simply on the floor -- provided not only a feeling of freedom and independence, but also the opportunity to forget inhibiting pressure of the music business (everything was totally informal). In addition, the absence of any deeply rooted commercial greed attracted many music lovers interested in experimentation and new sounds. This was truly the opportunity to let the musicians express their own respective individual voices. As a result, the shared enthusiasm for some genuinely fresh musical ideas made the New York “Loft scene” quite an exciting period.

On March 16, 1976, Steve Lacy brought back from several years of “exile” some truly unique sounds to New York, and a special spark to Broadway… But let the unexpurgated music speak for itself.

Gilles Laheurte (liner notes)

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