The Whammies

The Whammies





The Whammies

music of Steve Lacy

  • $30 Assigned Rows 1-2
  • $20 Assigned Rows 3-5
  • $15 General Admission
  • $5 Student
  • Jorritt Dijksta, alto sax/lyricon
  • Jeb Bishop, trombone
  • Pandelis Karayorgis, piano
  • Mary Oliver, violin/viola
  • Jason Roebke, bass
  • Han Bennink, drums

Event Details

Steve Lacy:

Steve Lacy (July 23, 1934 – June 4, 2004), born Steven Norman Lackritz in New York City, was a jazz saxophonist and composer recognized as one of the important players of soprano saxophone.[1] Coming to prominence in the 1950s as a progressive Dixieland musician, Lacy went on to a long and prolific career. He worked extensively in experimental jazz and dabbled in free improvisation, but Lacy's music was typically melodic and tightly-structured. Lacy also became a highly distinctive composer with a signature organic of style, with compositions often built out of little more than a single questioning phrase, repeated several times.
The music of Thelonious Monk became a permanent part of Lacy's repertoire after a stint in the pianist's band, with Monk's songs appearing on virtually every Lacy album and concert program; Lacy often partnered with trombonist Roswell Rudd in exploring Monk's work. Beyond Monk, Lacy performed the work of jazz composers such as Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington and Herbie Nichols; unlike many jazz musicians he rarely played standard popular or show tunes.

This concert is supported by the Instant Composers Pool Foundation,  the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Whammies, featuring an all-star cast of musicians from the Amsterdam, Chicago, and Boston improvisation scenes, is releasing their second CD “The Whammies Play The Music Of Steve Lacy, Vol. 2” once again focusing on compositions by the late saxophone iconoclast Steve Lacy. This CD is being released by Driff Records, a label founded by Boston-area improvisers Jorrit Dijkstra and Pandelis Karayorgis as part of a batch of four new releases. The Whammies toured the American Northeast in January 2013 and is planning European tours in November 2013, March 2014 and summer 2014.
The Whammies (named after a Steve Lacy tune) brings together musicians from three cities, united by an interest in creating adventurous improvisational forms. Originally from Amsterdam, saxophonist and bandleader Jorrit Dijkstra has long lived in Boston, where he has found common musical ground with pianist and co-founder Pandelis Karayorgis. Former Bostonian Nate McBride and trombonist Jeb Bishop are stalwarts of the Chicago jazz community, noted for their tenures alongside Ken Vandermark in projects such as Powerhouse Sound and the Vandermark 5. Dijkstra and Karayorgis have both collaborated extensively with Chicago musicians in groups such as The Flatlands Collective, Pillow Circles, Duo Karayorgis/Vandermark, and the PK Quintet. The éminence grise is legendary 71-year-old Dutch drummer Han Bennink, who played with Lacy in the 1980s. Bennink’s bandmate from the Instant Composer’s Pool (ICP), violinist Mary Oliver, adds another “Dutch jazz” flavor to the mix. “Han’s music is so deep in my roots as an improviser growing up in Amsterdam,” explains Dijkstra. “I feel deeply connected with his type of swing and his Dadaïst touch.”
Dijkstra first saw Lacy and Bennink play together in 1983 in the Netherlands, when Dijkstra was a teenage saxophone student. “I was charmed by the clarity of Lacy’s sound, and the simple elegance of his melodies,” Dijkstra remembers. “At that moment, I knew I wanted to become an improvising musician.” Lacy’s book Findings later became Dijkstra’s “saxophone bible.” When Lacy joined the faculty of New England Conservatory in 2002, Dijkstra jumped at the chance to take lessons with him. “His story is so different from other saxophone teachers – ‘Let’s go play with the ducks in the pond.’ Lacy taught me that you can make music out of anything.”
For the repertoire for the second Whammies recording, again mostly material from Lacy’s more experimental period in the 1970’s was chosen. Dijkstra has been researching the vast archive of scores and notes Lacy left behind when he died in 2004. “It’s a real treasure trove that’s inspiring my composing, playing, and teaching,” Dijkstra says. “I’m especially interested in how Lacy notated the compositional structures of his more open-form pieces. Lacy’s original dedications were rarely noted on album jackets or even in liner notes, but give insight into Lacy’s compositional process.
“Skirts”, “Threads” and “Saxovision” have only been recorded in solo versions by Lacy, and “Pregnant Virgin” has probably never been played at all. “Lumps” was originally done in a trio version on a 1974 ICP record, featuring Dutchmen Han Bennink, Maarten Altena, and analog synth whiz Michel Waisvisz. Reason enough to premiere the full versions of these works on the second Whammies recording. In line with the repertoire from the first CD, there are a few more Dutch angles: dedications to painters Willem de Kooning and Vincent van Gogh. “Threads” was penned during a stay in Amsterdam in 1974. The piece “The Oil” is a great example of Lacy’s interest in programmatic music: with a simple performance instruction “Thick and Slippery” the challenge was clear. The second CD again closes with a Thelonious Monk tune: “Shuffle Boil”. Lacy was an advocate of Monk’s music throughout his career, a specialty that pianist Karayorgis shares.
Dijkstra is also applying his passion for analog electronics and the Lyricon, an analog wind synthesizer from the ‘70s. “The Lyricon is an extension of the saxophone because I can do go into an extreme range of pitches and dynamics that I can’t do on the saxophone,” he says. Dijkstra’s use of the Lyricon on this recording blends startlingly with Oliver’s strings, and evokes what Lacy achieved on the soprano saxophone. “Lacy encouraged us to push the outer limits of the saxophone sound by practicing overtone series,” says Dijkstra. “He’d say, ‘there’s a whole world up there to explore.”
Dijkstra and Karayorgis founded Driff Records in 2012, to release “transatlantic” improvised music. The label is fully artist-run, keeping complete control over artistic choices, cover design, distribution and promotion. All Driff Records releases can be purchased as a CD or download through Bandcamp, CD Baby, and through an international network of specialized CD stores and distributors.