At long last, after remaining out of print for decades, the Milan based imprint, Dialogo, dives into the legendary catalog of Cramps, bringing forth the first ever vinyl reissue of Steve Lacy’s LP, "Straws", issued as the sixth instalment of the label’s DIVerso series in 1977. Truly singular in the legendary American saxophonist’s discography - featuring stunning solo excursions and dialogs with himself - it remains one of the great documents of 1970s improvisation, and is as engrossing, creatively riveting, and as ahead of its time today as it was when it was laid to tape. Complete with original liner notes penned by Lacy himself.
For the scale of its impact, Cramps was a relatively short-lived endeavour, running for roughly seven years between 1973 and 1980. Founded in Milan by the producer, publisher, and graphic designer, Gianni Sassi, the label was a near perfect emblem of revolutionary temperaments emerging within Italy during that era; creatively radical, globally minded, without profit motive, and bridging numerous musical idioms. Subsequently, few labels associated with experimental music have garnered as much affection, or as devoted a following as Cramps. It’s seminal albums by John Cage, Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, Giusto Pio, Demetrio Stratos, Juan Hidalgo, Robert Ashley, Walter Marchetti, Cornelius Cardew, Raul Lovisoni / Francesco Messina, Alvin Lucier, Derek Bailey, and so many more - the vast majority of which have remained largely out of print and nearly impossible to obtain for decades - rank among experimental music’s great holy grails. Now, at long last, the Milan based imprint, Dialogo, has begun a stunning series of vinyl reissues from the Cramps catalog. A little while back we celebrated their reissues of Costin Miereanu’s Luna Cinese and David Tudor’s Microphone, and now they’re back with the seminal American saxophonist Steve Lacy’s 1977 LP, Straws, their first exploring the Cramps’ legendary DIVerso series.
First emerging during the mid 1950s, saxophonist and composer, Steve Lacy (1934 – 2004), has long been regarded as one of the most important contributors to 20th Century musical canon, producing groundbreaking records with Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Thelonious Monk, Kenny Burrell, The Jazz Composer's Orchestra, Alan Silva, Roswell Rudd, Globe Unity Orchestra, ICP Orchestra, Miles Davis, and numerous others. An early adopter of free improvisation and experimental forms of jazz, despite his incredible catalog of collaborations, it is Lacy’s work as a solo artist and band leader that towers above the rest.
Released in 1977, Straws encounters Lacy more than two decades into his professional career, brimming with confidence, versatility, and at the top of his game, building on the back of an incredibly prolific period of recording that grew from his move to Paris in 1970, where he remained for the bulk of his remaining years. The album, sparse and visionary, features six individual works - two solo pieces, two with celeste accompaniment, and two tape collages - dedicated to figures from various disciples of the arts, Brion Gysin, Janis Joplin, Art Tatum, Marilyn Monroe, Igor Stravinsky, and his wife, the singer Irene Aebi. Easily among the most adventurous of Lacy’s output from the period, Straws deftly rises to the demands of each challenging venture, creating something entirely brave, singular and visionary from clusters of tone, airy spaces, deconstructed melodic structures, playful moments, and truly radical dialogs with himself.
Freejazz that’s not quit freejazz, and experimental music as it should be understood and rarely is, Straws, heard more than fourty years after it first emerged, heaves with life, and stands as a potent reminder of what a powerful creative voice Lacy was. It’s absolutely incredible and engrossing from the first note to the last. This first-time vinyl reissue from Dialogo comes in a beautifully produced sleeve that faithful reproduces the original cover artwork and inner sleeve. A must for fans of Cramps, Lacy, or experimental music and freejazz at large.