Paris Transatlantic review by Jason Bivins

Steve Lacy Quintet – ESTILHACOS (CF 247)
Not only is it always a wonderful thing to hear a new recording or reissue unearthed from the still sorely-missed Lacy, but to have a document from an under-represented period and a slightly different lineup is a special treat. From a 1972 Lisbon recording, Lacy’s quintet on Estilhacos (Irene Aebi on cello, harmonica, and radio, altoist Steve Potts, bassist Kent Carter, and drummer Noel McGhie) was a raw, at times militant art-improv band (and indeed, the band’s knowing decision to dial into Radio Renescenca tapped into the revolutionary mood brewing in Portugal in the early 1970s). With noisy radio signals and a martial sound, the quintet barrels its way through the opening “Stations,” with muted melismatic cello from Aebi and gruff staccato horn polyphony. The band follows this up with a blistering, churning medley of (again) lesser known tunes: “Chips” (where Aebi honks away on harmonica), “Moon,” and “Dreams.” On the latter piece, Potts is positively incendiary atop a groaning bed of sound. A transformed, raucous “No Baby” is miles away from most available versions of this tune. And the closing “The High Way,” finds Lacy revisiting territory similar to “Stations,” a rumbling, droning bed and repeating staccato phrases for the saxophones (almost conjuring the opening of “Wickets”). Top notch.

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