Threads - liner notes

Jazz has quickly reached (in less than a century) what the European tradition achieved after a dozen of centuries: today the Afro-American music uses elements clearly bound to the poetic of the Western avant-garde, but it uses them not through the same key, rather through a rhythmical concept which is totally unknown to the European musical culture of today. Does still exist a "Western rhythm"? Improvisation and rhythmical power are two forgotten words in this part of the world, and even the case of an authentical rhythm creator like Igor Strawinsky underlines this problem further on. When Western composers have wished to express, ironically or not, a different conception of the European music, they have been always obliged to express themselves through jazz formulas: apart from Strawinsky, let's recall to our mind all the "Gebrauchsmusik", which influenced even Hindemith with his jewel "Neues vom Tage". And at the days of today composers from different trends like Hans Werner Henze, John Cage or Terry Riley often produce music inspired by jazz elements. Even the European pop music would not exist without the so called "rhythm & blues" elements.

The Europeans discovered the Afro-American culture and the Afro-Americans rediscovered the European culture: different pianists like Don Pullen, Keith Jarrett or Chick Corea show to be influenced by such composers like Chopin, Satie, Debussy, Granados, Villa Lobos or Ravel, while, for instance, in other occasions the avant-garde is the real dominant element, as in the duets between Oliver Lake and Joseph Bowie, or in the pianism of Cecil Taylor, etc.

In this case we are going to listen to a true avant-garde artist, but we must not intend for avant-garde a snobbish term: Steve Lacy is a musician who, like few others called Roswell Rudd, etc., has experienced all the trends in the history of jazz, and his actual music is the product of such a past, dedicated not only to the understanding of the Afro-American culture, but also to the discovery of far-away cultural worlds, like the Oriental ones. Lacy's musical culture has been continuously enriched then, also by exogenous elements to the jazz tradition, and it is natural that now Lacy is allowed by his background to meet also exponents of that European tradition which is one of the main basis of his past. Alvin Curran and Frederic Rzewski, then, are the creative and inventive supporters of a free structure whose code is, actually, very difficult to be deciphered. A cold but intense energy is produced by a distilled music where the rhythm and the melody are flaked through a polycultural process: a non-Western philosophy is the creatress of a totally free lyricism where the music produces a segmented structure through a complexed relationship between sound and silence. Curran and Rzewski are, then, the source of diversified substructures which integrate the main source of pure energy.

The rhythmical complexity of this music reminds us of the compositions by Messiaen, but joined by a kind of "stream of consciousness" where Lacy, like a Joyce's hero, seeks for the "threads" of his past: and the result is a polycultural microcosm where many traditions are assembled to produce a kaleidoscope of complementary images.

Marco Crisostomi