A fabulous introduction to this legendary quartet's outstanding work...
Charles De Ledesma 2007
The double CD, Early And Late, encompasses forty years of the Quartet, although most of the takes are from 1999-2002, just two years before iconoclastic soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy died. Lacy had returned to the US after an extended foray in Europe where, like many free-minded modern jazz players, including Don Cherry, he had spread the free jazz creed, helping to globalise the avant garde. His partner here, trombonist Roswell Rudd, had stayed on in the States. The live takes here then constitute a dramatic reunion of sorts, where the pair’s exuberant, playing styles merge and trigger ever more playful adventures in counterpoint, melody, rhythm and discord.
Stand out tunes include Lacy’s famous composition, “Bamako”, with its deliciously percussive West African mood and liberatory zeal; “Blinks”, a racy, thrilling track where Lacy plays solo for many minutes and the bassist, Jean-Jacques Avenel has time galore to concoct magical patterns. And, there on “The Rent”, there is no better example of that tonally crisp, almost telepathic union between Lacy and Rudd where they chirp away like ecstatic, or demented, birds before the song folds back into a blues riff!
Pyrotechnics aside, the most satisfying - and rarest – cuts here are from a 1962 session (Bob Cunningham, bass), recorded just prior to the Quarter’s debut album School Days. Obsessed by reinterpreting pianist Thelonius Monk’s compositions, “Eronel” and “Think of One” are lyrical, tight and sprightly, more measured and edited than the meandering meditations of the bolder, later pieces.
This CD is a great introduction to Lacy and Rudd’s wonderful music.