The Joan Miro Foundation Concert

Steve Lacy / Irene Aebi:

The Joan Miro Foundation Concert

If you say, "Hello!" - there's two pitches already, BA bom, that's already a piece of music if you can write that down. So the distinction between words and music, for me, is very - next door, really. And my job is to get from one to the other, like a transmuting.

(Steve Lacy - liner notes)

Recorded in 1995

Steve Lacy soprano saxophone Irene Aebi voice (9, 11-14, 16, 17, 19, 21-23)

Ind. Title Composer / Author Dur.
1/ Introduction by Steve Lacy 0:22
2/ Shuffle Boil Thelonious Monk 3:00
3/ Eronel 2:40
4/ Evidence 3:48
5/ Reflections 2:57
6/ Misterioso 3:30
7/ Work 2:44
8/ Steve Lacy speaks 0:51
9/ Art Steve Lacy / Herman Melville 4:19
10/ Steve Lacy speaks 0:44
11/ ZA Steve Lacy / Kurt Schwitters 2:44
12/ Die Gazelle Zittert 2:52
13/ One Day 2:21
14/ Dome 1:13
15/ Steve Lacy speaks 0:26
16/ Avis Steve Lacy / Philippe Soupault 2:49
17/ Wish Steve Lacy / Francis Picabia 2:41
18/ Steve Lacy speaks 0:31
19/ Como è trieste Venezia Steve Lacy / Giulia Niccollai 2:25
20/ Steve Lacy speaks 0:16
21/ Jack's Blues Steve Lacy / Robert Creeley 2:11
22/ Heaven 2:00
23/ Train Going By 2:56

Recorded live on 08 June 1995 at The Joan Miró Foundation, Barcelona (SPAIN) during the "Nits de Música".

Executive producers: Joan Solsona & Antoni Robert.

Cover photography & layout: A. Fontana.

Liner Notes

The following interview took place on October 27, 1993. It was conducted by Jason Weiss and published in Hambone magazine, Winter '98. [...]

Weiss: Irene, you were telling me previously that once you have a song that Steve has written and you're going to start working on it, from that point you take it and go to your singing coach and you work it out very precisely with the coach. And then, after all that, you come back to Steve. So he's not involved.

Aebi: No. Sometimes he wonders, Ah, wow!

Lacy: Yeah, the coach knows more about it than I do, really. And so does she.

Aebi: It's out of his hands.

Lacy: Once it's written it's about realization by the person who's going to realize it.

Weiss: So she ends up surprising you sometimes.

Lacy: Oh, yeah.

Aebi: Well, when we take a song we just analyze it like any piece of music. Like we say, where is the high point, what we're going to do, accents. What we're not going to do, what would be heavy-handed. We also learn how to take dishonesty out of the song. So that takes a long time, especially if the text is good. All we want is really to get that right. And we don't work too much on emotions. Emotions are there in the voice anyway. I think we don't have to work on emotions but on having good taste in our choice of how to do the phrasing.


Weiss: Another recent project along that line is Thirteen Regards, which are thirteen Tsvetaeva poems in French.

Lacy: Yeah, that we're going to do for the French radio next month. That's going to be done with harpsichord, voice and saxophone.

Aebi: There again, they're very fine, very feminine songs. I read her autobiography and I really tried to find out how she feels. That's very important, to read about those people, what kind of life they had. In that sense, if you don't know them in person you can read about them and what they've been through. Tsvetaeva had an awfully hard life and she was incredibly brave. She had two children, she never had money, her husband was always sick and she was in love with Pasternak and Rilke. And she wrote these wonderful letters in the middle of the night, when she had the only free moment to write. So this made me sing very different when I read about these people. I really feel like I can read them in their voice. It's not me singing that, taking their words away and making them to my own emotion. They don't need anything, they just need to be sung.

Weiss: In works like that, does the tradition of art songs seem to enter in more than jazz tradition?

Lacy: Well, yeah, I've been accused of writing art songs for so long that I began to believe it, really. We started to call it art songs, why not? And that's what they are. But they're sort of jazz art songs, in the sense that there is improvisation attached to them and that what I do is jazz-based. I've been told that I have this field sewed up to myself. And it's true that there are not too many people working in those terms. But what Irène was just saying is very important, that you try not to betray the spirit of the poet, as if they were alive. So that you get their blessing, whether they're dead or alive.


Jason Weiss (excerpt from liner notes)

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