Steve Lacy's second Novus release uses a variety of different instrumental combinations and each of the selections deserves a comment or two. "The Door" (a whimsical piece built off of the knock of a door) and Thelonious Monk's "Ugly Beauty" (played as a waltz) are performed by the soprano-saxophonist's quintet (consisting of altoist Steve Potts, pianist Bobby Few, bassist Jean-Jacques Avinel and drummer Oliver Johnson). Lacy and Potts take searching improvisations over the strong pulse of the rhythm section. "Cliches" is an overlong duet by Lacy and Avinel with the bassist switching to thumb piano. "Forgetful," a forgotten George Handy ballad originally sung by David Allyn with Boyd Raeburn's orchestra, is played very respectfully by the Lacy-Few duo. The quirky "Blinks" is a four-bar phrase (taken from Kid Ory) that is played up and down a standard scale. Finally there is "Virgin Jungle," the biggest curiosity of the date. Sam Woodyard (Duke Ellington's drummer for many years), was living in Paris and sat in as a second drummer with the group just a month before his death. With violinist Irene Aebi fitting into the role of a slightly spaced Ray Nance, "Virgin Jungle" gets into an Ellington/Juan Tizol groove that works very well. Overall this is a well-conceived and highly recommended set for Steve Lacy fans.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow