Happy birthday to the world's greatest soprano saxophone artist, Steven Lackritz aka Steve Lacy. Polish-American and born in NYC, Lacy played in dixieland bands before helping launch the out-jazz revolution.
He played early on with Pee Wee Russell, Jimmy Rushing, Gil Evans and others before joining Cecil Taylor's group, with their first album appearing in 1956. Lacy's 1958 album Reflections was the first all-Thelonious Monk program on an album. One of the planet's deepest diggers into the catalogue of Monk, the great composer of whom Lacy used to work with in the early '60s, he went on to produce several albums exploring Monk's music. He was also a champion of the music of the fascinating pianist Herbie Nichols.
In '65 Lacy went to Europe with Kenny Drew, and formed an awesome band featuring Enrico Rava, Johnny Dyani and Louis Moholo, recording the classic The Forest And The Zoo for the ESP-Disk label. Settling in his new home of France, he married singer/musician Irene Aebi and performed in a variety of settings, from big band to solo soprano, all the while including literary and dance collaborations and inspirations in his work.
He received a MacArthur genius grant in 1992 and continued his musical explorations until his death. In his long career he also played with Mal Waldron, Roswell Rudd, Miles Davis, Bill Dixon, Derek Bailey, Max Roach, Dave Douglas, Roy Haynes, Danilo Perez, Carla Bley, Don Cherry, Kenny Burrell, MEV, Globe Unity Orchestra, Bobby Few, Evan Parker and many others. And John Coltrane cited him as an inspiration on Trane's decision to play soprano.