This CD is the second in a reissue series from a Hat two-LP set. It is collaboration between composer/bandleader/soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy and American poet and critic Robert Creeley. Both later became Macarthur Foundation fellows. These collaborations began in 1982 after poet and critic Pierre Joris introduced the two men on a radio show in Paris. Creeley gave Lacy -- who had been working with the works of poets since the beginning of the '60s -- a copy of his Collected Poems. Lacy was turned on, and the gig was a go. Lacy took 20 poems by Creeley, set them to varying styles of music with one formula uniting them all: introduction; sung poem -- repeated twice; tag -- a "last phrase" repeated twice; return to introduction; improvisation for one instrument or a combination of instruments. As formulaic as it was -- a manner in which Lacy was not accustomed to working -- it worked so well that an entire production was created that included lights and costumed dancers. As to what it sounds like, it sounds a lot like the Lacy Sextet, reigned in by creating a music that was not strictly jazz or anything else for that matter, but that suited Creeley's poems as art. The musical form might be a tango or a tarantella or a march, but is, to quote a dictum from Creeley's influential mentor and cohort, not more than an extension of content. Therefore, it was down to the words and the improvisations to take the form to newer levels of expression, create new layers of meaning for both lyric and music. And with Lacy's legendary band at the height of their creative powers and the addition of George Lewis, Barry Wedgle, Gyde Knebusch, and Jef Gardener, the poems soared with the insight of an improvisation that was so intimate and close to the bone that it opened the poems themselves up even further. This is truly an artful and remarkable collaboration that is a standard to adhere to in such encounters.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek