Though soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy recorded many volumes of solo music, on only a handful did he use overdubbing and rarely to the extent of this obscure album recorded in Italy in 1986. Sponsored by the official Italian radio station, RAI, and apparently intended as the first of a series of radio broadcasts called Sounding Islands, Outings consists of two lengthy pieces very much in the inimitable Lacy style: clean, almost singsongy themes that gradually expand, fracture, and wend their way into unexpected and beautiful territory. The first piece, "Labyrinth," dedicated to the painter Giorgio de Chirico, overdubs three saxophones at the beginning and end but is otherwise given over to a "standard" solo performance with Lacy keeping to the lower ranges of his instrument and eschewing any shrillness or abrasiveness. "Islands" opens with a sextet of overdubbed soprano saxes playing a repeating, minimalist theme in the foreground with plaintive moans in the rear (reminiscent of some work by the duo of Anthony Braxton and Richard Teitelbaum) before reverting to a duo format, here recorded with substantial room ambience. The reverberations of the soprano and the generally mournful tones provide a fine, melancholy aura. In fact, this selection features some of the calmest, almost pastoral playing that one is likely to hear from Lacy until some squeaks and multi-phonics set in during the final third of the piece. If lucky enough to find a copy, Outings is a worthwhile addition to the Lacy catalog and should be of substantial interest to the serious Lacy collector.
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AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick