This is the second edition of a concert that shows, even to the not conversant, at what level of eloquent eagerness the Steve Lacy Five were able to convey utterly intelligible visions. The intertwining material created by the couple of forwards – the leader on his peerless soprano, Steve Potts on alto and soprano – is superlative, all the more when Irene Aebi’s cello and violin designs enter the contrapuntal set-up. The three often leave the interplay to border an “on-the-rampage” area, but at the same time maintain an indispensable transparency of description. Speaking of Aebi, her vocal input is always clear-cut whatever kind of intricacy she’s presented with; doubling linear sketches that privilege angularity with that sort of watertight aloofness is a feature that must be admired.
Sustained by remarkable bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel (engenderer of a lengthy lonely trip in “Wickets”) and Oliver Johnson’s unfaltering percussive propulsion (listen to the triplet-influenced drive in “Clichés”, a piece that in some of its aspects recalls Frank Zappa’s “King Kong”), the quintet gives the very best in the shortest episodes, such as the initial “Stamps” and “Prospectus”. It is in those occasions that the stability between compositional and improvisational constituents reaches points of near-perfection. Compulsive reaffirmations of phrases and patterns are followed by sudden openings where the musicians transmit a sophisticated type of autonomy, keeping things in the realm of blood and guts without getting their dresses stained. And yet, Potts’ semi-furious soloing in “Blinks” remains the moment in which the “blackness factor” is visible at the most.