N.Y. Capers & Quirks - reviews

Jazz Magazine

Réédition partielle du double lp "live" paru il y a quelques années. La présence de Dennis Charles — drummer de la première époque de Lacy et souvent présent à ses cotés jusqu'en 82 — est un gage de parfaite entente, et même au-delà puisque les compositions de Lacy n'ont peut-être jamais paru dans leur éclat rythmique de façon aussi manifeste.

Comme si les figures de Charles s'ajointaient à la pensée du leader, alors en pleine période d'invention de thèmes à l'allure monkienne, avec une intuition surprenante. Une musique architecturée, droite, pleine, assurée de la légitimité de sa manifestation, et qui apparalt aujourd'hui toujours aussi urgente.

Philippe Méziat (Jazz Magazine 516, juin 2001)

Jazz Hot

Saluons cette réédition parce qu'elle nous permet d'entendre d'abondance le grand batteur Dennis Charles, disparu en 1998, celui dont Didier Levallet me disait récemment qu'il lui manquait beaucoup et qu'il ne retrouverait jamais un tel batteur. En effet Dennis Charles est un cas à part dans l'histoire de la batterie. Il est très près de la tradition des percussions africaines car il « roule » très peu et frappe en jouant des tensions, des sonorités. Il laisse à la basse, ici le remarquable Ronnie Boykins, le soin d'assurer le tempo. Lui, dialoguant presque mélodiquement avec le soliste, retrouvant d'instinct la figure rythmique derrière le motif mélodique. Ses solos sont imprévisibles et déroutants, mais toujours d'une fraîcheur et d'une nouveauté excitantes. Il suffit d'écouter Bud's Brother pour s'en convaincre. Steve Lacy joue la poésie du saxophone avec ce son pur, sans vibrato, mais hérité de Bechet. Chaque note est belle, chargée d'une intensité tragique, comme chez Bechet justement. Le long morceau Kitty Malone est un pur joyau, un blues très prenant, lancinant, la mélodie évolue lentement selon des modes et la basse est comme une voix venue apporter la lumière depuis les mystères du passé, le tout ponctué par le drumming de Dennis qui est comme un rappel des tambours dans les bateaux d'esclaves. On peut le voir comme cela, ou écouter la musique tout simplement.

Serge Baudot (Jazz Hot supplément n° 578, 03/2001)

All about Jazz

The Steve Lacy Trio with Jean-Jacques Avenel and John Betsch has been touring around the country for a few years now, purveying a stylish cool that contrasts interestingly with the trio on this disc: Lacy with bassist Ronnie Boykins and drummer Dennis Charles. This disc, recorded in 1979, captures Lacy during a freer, more fiery period. Boykins, who never got the recognition he deserved for his ground-breaking work on bass in the Sun Ra Arkestra, and Charles, a legendarily incendiary drummer, spur Lacy on to heights of saxophonic fury that are purely and utterly delightful.

That's not to say that this is a completely different Lacy. From the first moments of Quirks his uniquely and deeply harmonic approach is abundantly in evidence. This is a man who plays the changes, plumbs the changes, captures and dissects the changes, wears the changes, eats the changes for lunch. And he does so here, on every one of these five tracks, even as his sax moos lustily and Charles and Boykins churn behind him.

Robert Spencer (All about Jazz, 07/2000) complete review

All about Jazz

Steve Lacy’s long recording career has been one of uncommon consistency of thoughtful, risk taking jazz. Steve Lacy Three: N.Y. Capers & Quirks is a trio recording adding to this great soprano saxophonist’s body of work an excellent often “free jazz” performance recorded live in 1979.

Still in his early twenties, Lacy was recognized as a featured soloist on a classic recording of the Gil Evans Orchestra in 1957 (Gil Evans & Ten). Over the years, Lacy has been celebrated as one of the outstanding Monk interpreters on the basis of a series of brilliant group, duet, and solo recordings focusing on Monk compositions. Since the early 1980’s, his various recordings with pianist Mal Waldron have provided the jazz world with a striking example of the subtlety and the depth of thought and emotion that jazz improvisation can reveal.

[…] Throughout, Charles and Boykins sustain a complex dialogue with Lacy and with each other that is at times spare and at times strident, but rarely predictable. There are many ways of improvisational intensity and Lacy’s trio seems to have been determined to explore many of the possibilities. This is a very interesting recording by a very curious and lively trio.

Mike Neely (All about Jazz, 07/2000) complete review

The Austin Chronicle Music

Lacy's reunion with former School Days members Rudd (on Monk's Dream) and drummer Dennis Charles (on N.Y. Capers) marks no special occasion; in fact, the recordings were made 20 years apart. Yet both sessions reach back to a more adventurous time, and seem to draw on renewed energy. […] N.Y. Capers is better still, Lacy focusing intently on a delightful batch of originals on this 1979 trio date. Oddly, there are only two Monk compositions between them, both on Dream. As Lacy becomes a jazz elder, he's adapting some of his former mentor's habits, settling in like an old shoe with his longtime rhythm section, the rock-solid Jean-Jacques Avenel and the sometimes heavy-handed John Betsch. […]

Jeff McCord (The Austin Chronicle, 06/2000) complete review

Note: common review of N.Y. Capers & Quirks, The Rent and Monk's Dream

All about Jazz

[…] With this new release, the “Steve Lacy Three” provides the modern jazz public with yet another important glimpse of the soprano saxophonist as Lacy, Boykins and Charles perform with frenzied enthusiasm on pieces such as the opener, titled Quirks. […] The sixteen-minute piece, Bud’s Brother features heated dialogue thanks to Lacy’s melodious lines, cyclic phrasing and torrid soloing. On this composition, Lacy instills a sense of melodrama amid the weaving rhythms and the band’s overall perceptive or intuitive interplay. The saxophonist employs circular breathing techniques on We Don’t as the rhythm section pushes, prods and accentuates the various movements while imparting somewhat of a kaleidoscopic effect, whereas linear motifs and hypnotically simple themes resume on the final track, Kitty Malone.

On N.Y. Capers & Quirks the musicians perform with imaginative sagacity while displaying an acute propensity for communicating a story or two along the way. The “Steve Lacy Three” is an altogether historic glimpse of three superb musicians who utilized technique as a vehicle for stark expressionism during a time when much of the jazz world was succumbing to fusion and market-driven crossover attempts. Yet it was musicians such as Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, and others who were drawing upon their fertile pasts while also pursuing futuristic visions that have encouraged or paved the way for these exciting “jazz” times which continue to unfold. Recommended.

Glenn Astarita (All about Jazz, 04/2000) complete review