Steve Lacy / Kenny Barron Quartet

New York City, 04 November 1999
Carnegie Hall

Thelonious Monk's Many Incarnations


For the first half of the concert two reliable interpreters of Monk's music were invited as guests in small group performances. The pianist Kenny Barron played Shuffle Boil and Light Blue; Light Blue was especially beautiful. Mr. Barron let his right hand run on in long improvisational statements while his left hand played a stride pattern in half time; it was an expressive, inventive take of one of Monk's warmest pieces of parlor music.

Then a quartet assembled, with Steve Lacy on soprano saxophone, Todd Coolman on bass and Dana Hall on drums. It looked as if the music would be killed by a rushing rhythm section. But in Eronel, the quartet's first tune, it was Mr. Lacy's coolness as he improvised around intervals in the upper register with a soft, naive sound that eventually slowed the band down and saved the set.

Playing Work, Mr. Lacy stepped out of Monk's authoritative rhythms altogether, finding his own way to lay out the song; he avoided lines and concentrated on single notes, letting them sound honest and awkward, and then connected them to create short, fast runs in his own language.


Ben Ratliff (The New York Times: Jazz Review - Monday, November 8, 1999)