Steve Lacy’s discography is so vast that disastrous omissions are inevitable, but here are five possible entry points.
EVIDENCE | Prestige | 1961 | Lacy in early, relatively straight-ahead mode, with trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Carl Brown, and drummer Billy Higgins, covering mostly Monk (including the title track, a composition that Lacy considered essential), plus Ellington’s “The Mystery Song” and the Ellington/Strayhorn “Something To Live For.”
THE FOREST AND THE ZOO | ESP | 1963 | Recorded live in Buenos Aires, and cited by Josh Sinton as one of Lacy’s personal favorites. “One of the more mysterious records that he did. The sound quality is absolutely terrible, but the band is remarkable.” With Enrico Rava on trumpet, Johnny Dyani on bass, and Louis Maholo on drums.
THE WAY | hatART | 1979 | The Lacy Quintet at its peak, with Irène Aebi on violin and cello and singing, plus alto-saxophonist Steve Potts, bassist Kent Carter, and drummer Oliver Johnson. Sporting texts from Witter Bynner’s translation of Lao Tzu’s The Tao Teh Ching, it’s on a double disc with Stamps, a collection of originals from the same period.
ITINERARY | hatART | 1991 | A rare big-band date (“Steve Lacy + 16”), recorded in 1990 at the “Listen to Lacy” festival in Vienna.
BYE-YA | Free Lance/Harmonia Mundi | 1996 | Lacy with his later rhythm section — bassist Jean-Jacques Avenal and drummer John Betsch. A couple of Monks (including the title track), but mostly Lacy, with “The Bath,” his “portrait of Dexter Gordon, with his huge tone and joyous swing.”