10 of Dukes + 6 Originals - reviews

"Steve Lacy's initial recording for Senators label is one of his finest live recordings."
Fred Jung - Jazz Weekly

All About Jazz

Inaugurating a new French label, this release presents Lacy's updated solo takes on the Duke Ellington repertoire. The live set includes The Mooche, Koko, Prelude to a Kiss, In A Mellow Tone, and other Duke favorites and obscurities, along with Lacy originals like The Breath and Gospel. Proof positive that the best just keeps on getting better.

Tod S. Jenkins (All ABout Jazz - 05/2003) complete article

All About Jazz

[…] Lacy’s artistry is on full display here; he makes the challenge of a solo recital sound like a piece of cake.

The most interesting concept, of course, is to hear the way in which Lacy distills the richly orchestrated Duke-Strayhorn arrangements into a seamless pared-down whole. For instance, on tracks like In A Mellow Tone, In A Sentimental Mood and Cotton Tail, Lacy focuses on melodic development with long, flowing harmonic lines that draw upon the beauty of these classics. At the other end of the spectrum, Prelude To A Kiss and Koko are prime examples of Lacy’s creativity, with radical reconstructions that provide only brief glimpses of the original melodic structures. […]

[…] This web-only release, circulated by a group of Lacy enthusiasts who call themselves “The Senators,” is another marvelous reflection of Lacy’s talents--full of sophistication, grace and inventiveness.

Jay Collins (All ABout Jazz - 24/05/2003) complete review

The New York Sun

[…] Mr. Lacy’s soprano work acknowledges the entire history of the instrument, referencing the influence of Bechet on the classic Ellington reed section sound (from Johnny Hodges to Harry Carney and Ben Webster) all the way up to the free-jazz future of the saxophone. His reinterpretations of Ellington classics include some virtuoso distortions, which are perfectly in keeping with Ellington’s own taste for dissonance and disturbance, manifested in the sounds produced in his orchestra by the great cornetist Rex Stewart (who himself worked with the young saxist and suggested the name change from Steve Lackritz to Lacy) and Al Hibbler.

The 10 of Dukes are on the whole marvelous free interpretations of famous favorites, but Mr. Lacy maintains the integrity of the melodies while dressing them up with all matter of what The Maestro would call "tonal pantomine." He achieves this effortlessly on the Mooche, one of the Duke’s earliest and most distinctive blues lines, which Mr. Lacy subjects to loud, blue screeches. His take on Koko is more ambitious — this 1940 masterpiece doesn’t quite qualify as a jazz standard because it is as much an orchestration as a song, and as such, few other jazz groups play it, yet Mr. Lacy manages to sum up the entire arrangement with his single, solo horn. Prelude to a Kiss concludes definitely with a thunderous lip-smacking kiss on the horn. One imagines a Fleischer Bros.-style cartoon in which the bell of the soprano morphs into a giant pair of smiling female lips. […]

Will Friedwald (The New York Sun, 13/05/2003)

Blow Up (7/8)

Non cercate nei negozi, l’unico modo per procursi l’ultimo Lacy è scrivere a info@senatorsrecords.free.fr. Vi troverete dieci Duke Ellington reinventati dal vivo in modo magistrale. In a Mellow Tone, Prelude to a Kiss, In a Sentimental Mood, ecc., spogliati dell’ aureo involucro orchestrale mettono in mostra uno scheletrico fascino. Lacy è attentissimo a piazzare ogni nota al posto giusto, a variare di continuo e con intensità l’approccio alla materia, dimostrandosi pieno di inventiva e creatività. La seconda parte del set ci regala sei nuove improvvisazioni formulate a partire da testi letterari, in grado di mantenere alto lo standard complessivo del disco. Mr. Lacy non delude neppure stavolta. (7/8)

Piercarlo Poggio (Blow Up #58 – 03/2003)


"Steve Lacy nous prouve ici que si Duke Ellington, son maître, transformait son orchestre en un chatoyant instrument, lui réussit à faire surgir de son seul saxophone toutes les couleurs d'un orchestre."

Michel Contant (Télérama, 31 janvier 2003)

Jazz Magazine (best of 2002)

"10 of Dukes + 6 Originals" cité trois fois (et les disques avec Steve Lacy en leader ou sideman 16 fois, soit près d'une fois sur deux !).

"10 of Dukes + 6 Originals" quoted three times (records with Steve Lacy as a leader or sideman 16 times, almost one time out of two!).

Jazz Magazine (Jazz Magazine, décembre 2002)

Downtown Music Gallery

An immensely splendid and wonderfully recorded live solo performance from the Egg Farm in Japan in October of 2000. Our favorite soprano sax master was invited to play an Ellington Anniversary Celebration in San Francisco the previous year, which inspired him to choose challenging gems from the Duke's vast repertoire and experiment with a variety of techniques he hadn't previously used to tackle these tunes. After that special night, he performed sets around the world doing what he calls the 10 of Dukes, an entire set of Duke's gems. The following year Mr. Lacy did this performance in Japan, the first set of Ellington treasures and the second set of six Lacy originals. The second set's songs were inspired by that of writings of Herman Melville, Jack Kerouac, Bob Kaufman, Ryokan and a joyous blues piece inspired by Stevie Wonder. An obvious love of Duke Ellington's remarkable music is at the center of the first set's magical performance, this is certainly some of Steve Lacy's finest playing I've heard.

DMG (Downtown Music Gallery, 29/11/02)

The Wire

"[…] Steve Lacy's level of concentration throughout is phenomenal, placing every note with his full attention.

[…] Lacy's sleevenote describes his attempts to capture some of the 'vivid colours' of the big band compositions through his use of extended techniques. True to his word, a succession of bends, blurs and skids best characterise his takes on Ellington."

Will Montgomey (The Wire, October 2002)


translation welcome!

Jazz Now

"[…] The entire program is a resounding success; Lacy captures the orchestral colors that are at the core of Ellington's art. […] A musician at the top of his game, a huge, well-rounded tone, a powerful rhythmic drive, and most importantly, a singular awareness of the emotive aspects of music. In this complex aesthetic, borne of several decades of meticulous research, multiple forms including "polytones, smears, kisses," extreme glissandi exist solely to serve the musical content."
[…] We are witness to storytelling of rare eloquence.  Lacy's music goes straight to the heart; and that's what sets him apart from the pack. […]"

James D. Armstrong Jr. (Jazz Now, October 2002) complete review

Jazz Magazine (disque d'émoi)

"Ça y est, Steve Lacy est parti, et sur son site internet (inutile de le chercher dans les bacs des disquaires traditionnels) il nous a laissé ce cadeau d'adieu. […] À chaque morceau correspond une attitude, ou plutôt une stratégie particulière. Ainsi Prelude To A Kiss, propice à tous les alanguissements et épanchements, devient le prétexte d'une succession de toboggans mélodiques et de demandes d'amour de nouveau-né, tandis qu'Azure […] est traité avec des growls ostensiblement “jungle”. Quant à l'introduction de Koko […], le soprano y devient fauve rugissant. […] Et comme on n'est jamais si bien servi que par soi-même, Lacy conclut son récital par une relecture de ses propres compositions – certaines aussi anciennes que The Breath – avec ce même mélange d'affection et d'irrespect sans quoi il n'y aurait pas de jazz. C'est dire que l'irruption des trois petits cochons de Walt Disney dans un thème intitulé Gospel pourrait bien être emblématique."

Philippe Carles (Jazz Magazine n° 530 d'octobre 2002)

Le Monde

"Lacy explore des techniques de jeu qui continuent d'être des défis pour lui, même avec quarante ans de musique dans les doigts. Il exprime beaucoup de son humanité musicienne, laisse passer assez finement des sourires. Bien proche en cela d'Ellington."

Sylvain Siclier (Le Monde, édition du 27 septembre 2002)

Jazz Break

Steve Lacy, le grand saxophoniste, se lance dans un challenge difficile : jouer en solo des oeuvres de Duke Ellington. Seuls des grands musiciens de son envergure peuvent réaliser un tel projet, quand on connaît le génie de Duke. […]

Du beau travail, des solos avec un son exceptionnel et de la maîtrise, avec une bonne restitution de l'esprit que Duke dégageait. […]

Un disque rare, à ce procurer d'urgence ! Quel goût et quelle technique !

Laurent Valette (Jazz Break, 23 septembre 2002)
article complet


Nul n'ignore ce que Steve lacy, génial soprano, doit à Thelonious Monk. […] On connaît moins, en revanche, le rôle que Duke Ellington (influence évidente de Monk) a joué dans la carrière du souffleur new-yorkais. "Il fut ma première inspiration", avoue pourtant volontiers ce dernier, qui n'a jamais manqué une occasion de rendre hommage à un compositeur qu'il a toujours vénéré. […]

Serge Loupien (Libération, 20/09/2002)

All About Jazz (Italy)

"Sulla scia del sito web personale di Steve Lacy, vede la luce una nuova etichetta, la Senators Records, grazie al supporto del produttore Vincent Lainé, curatore altresì del sito del sassofonista americano residente da moltissimi anni in Francia, ma da pochissimo tempo trasferitosi a Boston dopo aver accettato una cattedra presso il prestigioso New England Conservatory." […]

Francesco Varriale (All About Jazz Italy, 08/2002)

complete review