Senators is a non-profit organization whose goal is to promote Steve Lacy's music among musicians and connoisseurs. Its tools are this website, the publishing of music books, and any means to help promote his work. It was officially established in 1995.
From the onset until Steve Lacy's death in June 2004, the organization was the exclusive representative of his rights, as a composer and author. During that period, it also produced a CD (10 of Dukes+ 6 Originals) and distributed music scores. Steve Lacy's widow, Irene Aebi, is now the sole representative of his rights and should be contacted regarding his work.
In the early '90s, as I was switching from tenor to soprano saxophone for the needs of an amateur jazz band, I "naturally oriented myself to Steve Lacy" (as "Anyone who plays soprano", quoting Wayne Shorter), looking for some of his scores to practice and play. I first heard Steve's music 10 years before or so, in a memorable duo with Shiro Daïmon at the Dunois. I knew neither Shiro nor Steve, had never heard about Nô or Kabuki dance, and had not even attended a solo saxophone concert. This first encounter was quite shocking, but I was shocked with pleasure. I had the feeling that I was listening to the music I had been searching for years. Since that moment, I started looking for all his appearances and records.
Alas, I couldn't find any sheet music of Steve's compositions in Paris. Some weeks later, I was ringing at Steve's door, in the rue du Temple, asking him whether he would be interested in publishing some of his compositions. In fact, I had no clear idea of the way to achieve that (besides playing some music at home, I teach biology in a college). I was very intimidated of course, and I can't remember how I have dared to approach him this way - I guess that he already inspired me. Anyhow, he just answered in French "oh ça tombe bien, je voulais justement publier un livre" ("uh, perfect timing! I was just thinking about publishing a book"). Some months later the book “Findings” and its two CDs were done. I had my sheet music at last and more importantly a new friend, Steve Lacy himself. I was also lucky enough to meet Claude Fabre, whom I collaborated with (he had the publishing knowledge, I had the "joyous energy"), not forgetting the marvelous people I've met thanks to Steve, both living (some of them being Honorary Senators) or departed (all the artists he dedicated his compositions to or whom he borrowed the lyrics of his art songs from).
Day after day, I discovered the unbelievable treasures he kept in a simple metal box: all his compositions, instrumental and sung, in music books, from his first opus "The Way" to the just completed "Vespers". As I noticed that some books were in very bad shape and fearing for some catastrophe, I proposed to have them archived in some way, and finally brought the entire box to a microfilm laboratory (computer scanning was still in its early days). Although I wasn't able to play almost any of his compositions (I was not a great saxophonist, and many of his tunes are really challenging!), I was fascinated by his work and decided to do my best to make it better known and interpreted by other musicians. The necessity of a "foundation" for Steve Lacy's work was becoming evident.
Less than a year after, as our "collaboration" was growing up I began to think about a website and learned how to speak "html" with my word processor; I helped Steve obtain the rights from authors and publishers for the texts he set to music; I designed some flyers and programs for his concerts; I organized a few master-classes for him in a jazz school, etc, all of this, of course, done for free Steve wanted to give an official setting to my activities, and thus the organization Senators was created, in which I officially became his sole representative or "mandataire". This helped me a lot in my efforts to complete his catalogue at the SACEM (the French Society of music composers and editors), for instance. The agreement was extended year after year until Steve's death and finally terminated in May 2005 by his widow, Mrs Irene Aebi, when she decided to remove the catalogue of Steve's compositions from the SACEM, and entrust it to an agent in New York.
I shall be grateful to Steve's memory all my life, for he trusted me and followed most of my propositions, some of them rather adventurous (but, compared to my first, less hazardous). For instance, he got very excited at my proposal to use the internet for the promotion of his music, and delighted by the resulting website (10 years ago, this was kind of terra incognita, and we had to explore it at the speed of our tortoise-speed modems and computers!). He often related to me what musicians or fans told him about this website, and I was personally quite delighted! He was eager to share his music, and we started to distribute some scores at "cost price" through the site. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to expand the great number of scores available, as he wished. I do hope that someday someone will be able do this!
Now, the Senators Association no longer officially represents Steve Lacy. But all of us still deeply feel the same enthusiasm and gratefulness for the marvellous gifts Steve the musician, the composer, the artist and the human being has left us. We are confident that Mrs Aebi's determination will keep the flame burning, as demonstrated many times in her magnificent performances, and will spread the marvellous music she and Steve have created together for the enjoyment of the artists' community and connoisseurs. We shall maintain this website as long as we can as our humble homage to Mr. Lacy.
Vincent Lainé - November 10th, 2005
We'd like to thank the many people who have helped us, from the first days of this site, to collect information, to make Senators known, to improve the pages, to share with us their knowledge of the music…; or for their contributions like photos, reviews of concerts or records…; or just for having encouraged us to go on with it!
Some of them deserve a special attention, due to their warm support; they are Honorary Senators!
Jean Vincent, the lawyer who wrote the bylaw of the association - he now is the General Secretary at the International Federation of Musicians (FIMparis@compuserve.com).
Robert Spencer, who showed me the path in the html-frames jungle, and gave me so many good technical ideas that I'm ashamed of not having them myself! He also provided us with a mirror site for a limited time.
Marc-Édouard Nabe, for his memorable portrait of Steve Lacy: "Le soprano suprême" (in "Zigzags", Barrault, Paris - 1986).