One of the modern giants of the soprano saxophone, Steve Lacy used it as his instrument rather than playing it part-time, as many reed players have done. This unusual performance features Lacy playing an entire set unaccompanied on his instrument, though little audience feedback is heard at all. Like certain instruments, listening to a soprano sax without additional backing musicians can overwhelm some jazz fans, though Lacy's explorations of several Thelonious Monk compositions are successful because the listener can easily fill in the missing accompaniment in his or her mind. Lacy blends a playful take of "Eronel" in a medley with a particularly jagged and far-reaching setting of "Epistrophy." The saxophonist's whimsical take of the ballad "Reflections" is an outstanding interpretation, while he fills the rarely played "Gallup's Galop" with effective squeaks and squawks to punctuate this neglected gem. Lacy's originals provide more challenging listening. "Bone," which he recorded on several occasions, begins as a happy calypso before detouring into darker dissonant passages before recapping the main theme. He utilizes a repeated motif in "Wickets" and, at times, sings through his horn as he plays. "Follies" has the flavor of a street dance before it ventures into atonal sounds. Like his earlier unaccompanied CDs, Steve Lacy's Live at Jazzwerkstatt Peitz isn't for the casual jazz fan, but it will be devoured by those who are familiar with his music.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden