Uwe Oberg

Lacy Pool

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With Steve Lacy's music, an innate sense of intelligent design, soul, and reverence for the tradition was always present, while maintaining a progressive concept to push the envelope of enriched melodic construct. Pianist Uwe Oberg, drummer Michael Griener, and trombonist Christof Thewes have banded together to form Lacy Pool, a group dedicated to reinterpreting and even reinventing some of Lacy's finest compositions, while adding a few of their own. Without a soprano saxophone, Thewes' blurred, tone-stretching brass instrument serves as lead instrument in a compelling manner that should make ex-Lacy 'bonists George Lewis or Roswell Rudd quite proud. While Oberg is not Bobby Few, Mal Waldron, Misha Mengelberg, or Cecil Taylor -- former collaborators of Lacy's -- he doesn't have to be in order to be inspired by the infinite possibilities his music offered. From the gigantic songbook of Lacy, the trio has selected some choice material based on the signature one-word titles that its composer was so adept at adopting. They then stretch out ad infinitum into both serious and humorous themes guaranteed to cause both commotion and food for thought. "Stamps" is the lead track, always a favorite, in a mechanized march-like pace suggesting stoic, insistent German lieder phrases germane to Lacy's work with wife Irene Aebi. Another piece ranking with Lacy's best, "Blinks" uses alternating blurts outs opposing a traipsing lilt, while "Raps" is a short, funky, neo-hip strut, and "Flakes" floats in between a fluttery, cartoonish trombone motif before the sound of church bells enter. Thewes has his own means of playing up to the strengths of Oberg and Griener while plotting his own course with the music, despite the huge disparity between the timbres of a trombone versus a soprano sax. On "The Crust," his playful slide brass evinces great intent to make you laugh amidst Oberg's probing piano with a smeared, bluesy swing. "The Dumps" again displays great contrast between Griener's glad-handed New Orleans style and the Snidely Whiplash persona of Thewes. The two originals sound somewhat composed, with "After Hemline" establishing a 6/8 piano/bass ostinato, moving to 4/4 with child-like innocence and Thewes' muted trombone, where space is much more important than notes or tones during "Tarte." This refreshing and innovative, forward-thinking look on Steve Lacy's music is imaginatively clever as it is delightful, a great idea wrapped up in abstract ribbons and bows that should prove a satisfying listening experience, no matter your orientation with any creative improvised modern music.

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