Steve Lacy

High, Low and Order

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This 1978 set of recordings over two days at an Amsterdam theater reveals that two musicians who are disciplined enough can also be free enough to improvise completely without regard for structural convention or the force placed upon improvisers from within their own circle to make their music sound "spontaneously composed." In other words, these two cats make some cool-assed noise and could care less if the serious art types dig it or not. Insecurity is not an issue for this pair. These 11 improvisations have titles, but they are of absolutely no consequence and were probably added when the recordings were about to be issued. High, Low and Order is the sound of two musicians enjoying each other. Period. One leads with an idea, and the other follows for as long as it can be sustained, talking in tandem until another idea -- or even something funny -- replaces it. There is great relaxation in this pairing. Explorations of tone and timbre take place naturally and sonic development lopes along seeking nothing but the full expression of an immediate possibility. Steve Lacy, for his part, has never sounded so airborne. There is a spring-like feeling in his playing here, full of humor and grace, and Maarten Altena uses his bow as much as his fingers, trying to match polytones with Lacy, creasing the sonic fold and straightening it as phrases from jazz, blues, classical music, and even TV commercials fly back and forth in the midst of erecting some harmonic semblance of disorder. High, Low and Order is an example of the poetry Lacy loves so much, articulated line by line with only the extension of his breath to break the field into sections. Altena creates another stanza and they're off again. This is party music for new music heads.

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