I’m not going to fault Veronica DeJesus for embellishing Steve Lacy’s resume: “played w/Muddy Waters”. I don’t think Steve played with Muddy — the person who might know is Bob Margolin, or Eric Hanson.
More people think of Steve as the first person other than Monk who played the music of Monk.
Other sources say that an attribute of Steve is not just his versatility but that he kept evolving over a 50-year career. So maybe there was a blues deep dive that I am forgetting about. (I think in her production — she made 10 portraits of musicians for me, she is confusing Pinetop Perkins and Steve).
Steve played two shows for Earthwise. The first was around 1999 with his trio plus Roswell Rudd, the basic set and arrangements was later recorded live at Sweet Basil and released on Verve — or at least the Sweet Basil show was reviewed in the Times and then the album was cut in NYC. But it started in a warehouse space in San Carlos where Andy Heller was storing his gear. I didn’t know if Steve would fill the 300 capacity Cubberley Theatre here in Palo Alto — plus Andy was fixing to have a party anyhow so we somehow booked Steve Lacy the Genius Grant winner to play there.
I watched the band rehearse – this was the first show of the tour. My memory is that Roswell and Steve had not played together in a while.
I also recall Steve, JJ and John chilling in a bar on El Camino — maybe its the one with the neon marquee the former Carlos Theatre — and that as my brain wandered, Steve turned to me and invited me back in to the conversation: We are discussing Don Cherry, he said. Maybe for a bonus I should ask Veronica to do Don.
The second time it was Steve and Irene, at Cubberley. Will Bernard and Miya Masaoka were the opening act. I first thought of Carla Kihlstedt – the violinist, taking a cue from Irene Aebi’s role. But she was not available until the following night at Berkeley, St. Johns. I recall Irene whispering to me: that is unusual, someone singing and playing at the same time, for violin.
Steve did not drive so you had to drive him the next day. I know I also saw he and Mal Waldron duo at the Kaplan Penthouse. Maybe I met him five times, if I was lucky. Eric said that Steve rememembered me and was appreciative of the gigs.
I remember standing with Steve Lacy at Foothill College outside of KFJC and he took a puff from a little pipe but first he did some sort of Jedi trick to very briefly become invisible.
My headline refers to the expression that you cannot step into the same river twice; if I met Steve Lacy five times, it was mos def five different artists, each better than the previous. He not dead, he a jew-gitive. (“fugitive” plus “Jew” — his words).
May his memory be a blessing. And thanks Veronica for this painting.
and: I categorize this “jazz” natch and “ethnicities” sic which means “jewish”; this is not the second but the 44th time I write about or mention “Steve Lacy” at Plastic Alto.
andand: fairly random, but yesterday I ran into my Gunn classmate Monica Walker who was singing a “phil carter” version of “Amazing Grace”, tapping a tambourince and walking her dog at the new parking structure near California Ave. It was the first time I had ever spoken to her, I reckon. (There were 410 people in our graduating class and I can recall about 375 of them, but didn’t recall any particular memory of Monica, alas). She also sang a bit or at least mentioned “Bridge Over Troubled Water” but was familiar with the Aretha Franklin version, not Simon and Garfunkel original — they wrote it with Ernie Griffin I think it is. I’m listening to the Aretha version on a loop this am for about the last 30 min as I peck away here at the Plasty. “Still waters run deep” and “don’t trouble the waters” are enhancements to this version that were not in the original. I have to deliberately stop the player to inspect our text thread and fact check those two points — the author of the song and the arranger of the Amazing Grace. Well there is a sax i am just noticing in the Aretha version, and a chorus of chorus — not a soprano, closer to bari. The original version was recorded in 1970, won the 1971 Grammy for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Wiki says 50 others including Aretha and Elvis and Johnny Cash have covered the song. It says that the song borrows from Claude Jeter’s “Mary Don’t You Weep” 1958 I’ll be your bridge over troubled water if you trust in my name”. Aretha’s version came out shortly thereafter, in March, 1971. That won best female R&B performance at the 1972 Grammy’s. I’ve been listeing to the 5 minute version, not the 3:20 commercial radio single. But, it says she played it at the 1971 Grammy’s. My connection to Aretha is only that Henry Butler and I played Houston with “Front Porch Blues Tour” the day before Aretha was coming for 2 or 3 nights, on the marquee, circa 2002.
Ernie Freeman 1922-1981 won the Grammy with Paul Simon for “BOTW”, as arranger; he also won the same for Frank Sinatra “Strangers in the Night”.