Steve Lacy Saxophone Today (1957) Esquire

Track Selection 1: Alone Together (Deitz, Schwartz)

Something of a benchmark song, I think this is about the sixth version posted. Gives an interesting transverse section of how different saxophone players within the nominally similar modern jazz genre interpret the same standard. Pepper Adams on baritone, Hank Mobley and Sonny Stitt on tenor, now Steve Lacy on soprano.  These in addition to Chet Baker trumpet and Grant Green guitar.

Selection 2: Work (Monk)

Lacy apparently became “obsessed” with the works of Monk, a perfectly reasonable response I think, but  an unusual attraction for an exponent of the soprano.

Artists

Steve Lacy (ss) Wynton Kelly (p) Buell Neidlinger (b) Dennis Charles (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, November 1, 1957

Music

Lacy’s first record as leader age 23,   You might be forgiven for thinking it is Wynton Kelly’s record as he takes up a lot of the groove space. Lacy’s minimalist approach to the music finds Kelly inclined to fill the space left by Lacy and not always quite on the same wavelength.

Lacy’s championing of the soprano supposedly later influenced Coltrane to take up the straight horn in the mid Sixties, and he went on to become a leading feature of the European avant-garde, playing with Cecil Taylor and recording extensively in UK France and Italy, remaining active up until his death in 2004, age 70.

He introduced the bat-sqeak soprino, the soprano’s little baby sister, an instrument very fitting to the avant-garde, very little sign of which is in evidence on this Prestige recording from the Fifties.

Vinyl: Esquire 32-143 UK first release of Prestige PRLP 7125

The Prestige original  (left) is on NY labels and fetches a fair old price, (Popsike mean $171, Max $449).and of 26 auctions, three were the Esquire. So “rare”

Fair to say the Esquire, with its change of title (original is “Soprano Sax” and not “Soprano Today”) and general orangeness, is a lot less expensive, and not quite as attractive.

One thing that is never a good idea is to print in orange ink.

You can learn a lot of interesting things from liner notes, if you can read them.So here it is in slightly more readable form. Click either to view real size, above if you like the authentic 1957 orange experience, or below, if like me, you prefer to save eyestrain. Of course if you are still using a black and white monitor, you retro thing, you are ahead of the curve, bravo. Mono cartridge?

Collectors Corner

Source: eBay

Sellers Description: STEVE LACY QUARTET ‘SOPRANO TODAY’  ORIGINAL UK LP. STUNNING RARE 1957 UK 1st ESQUIRE LP  VINYL: SHINY VG+ / SLEEVE: VG+ (GENERAL AGE-WEAR). RARE BRITISH 1st PRESSING OF THIS CLASSIC ‘PRESTIGE’ SET FEATURING INCREDIBLE ARTWORK AND IN STUNNING CONDITION!

I counted two “RARE”s there, which helped push the price up, thank you eBay. Still, at leat it wasn’t MEGA RARE- ULTRA RARE, or TOTALLY ULTRA MEGA FRIGGIN’ RARE!!!  Speaking of rare, I read somewhere Beatle Paul McCartney own a Beatles record for which there exists only one test pressing, after which it was decided not to go ahead with the release, so it is the only copy in existence. McCartney’s net worth must now be over a billion, and he has no reason to sell it.  Now THAT is what I call ” pretty rare”.

I can only agree with the seller’s description on this occasion, with only three auctions ever with the Esquire. Price was actually not unreasonable – less than half the US original of the same date.  I think it was the orange put collectors off.

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1 thought on “Steve Lacy Saxophone Today (1957) Esquire

  1. I like this record. Ex-Revivalist Lacy on the verge of becoming a major representative of avant-garde jazz. His roots are still dimly discernible. – BTW: There are two Blue Note sides by Sidney Bechet I would recommend any “hard bop till you drop” fan to listen to: “Copenhagen” and “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans”. There’s beauty in that old stuff, and incredible swing.

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