Laurence M. Svirchev
Steve Lacy: the Bob Dylan of avant-garde jazz? Josh Sinton thinks so.
"Like a baker makes his bread, I make music. If I make the same bread tomorrow, that bores me. I have to remake it; I have to do better. I'm always looking for... the ideal bread." —Steve Lacy, April 1976
"I know Steve enjoyed silly puns. I'd like to think he would like a band calling itself Ideal Bread and trying to make that in every conceivable way." —Josh Sinton, May 2010
Baritone saxophonist Josh Sinton has a healthy obsession with the music of Steve Lacy, who remains an enduring figure in jazz. Lacy was as adept in traditional New Orleans polyphony as he was playing atonally and improvising freely. Sinton spent two years studying with Lacy at New England Conservatory, until Lacy succumbed to cancer in 2004. Today, Sinton leads Ideal Bread, a quartet that plays Lacy's music.
"I explicitly conceive of us being a repertory ensemble as opposed to a tribute or memorial band," Sinton says. "Words carry meaning. A repertory band is about the art as opposed to the artist or person. I don't have nearly the same amount of questions about Steve Lacy as I do about his work."
For all the talk of Lacy's avant-garde classification, his music and method remain valuable assets for musicians in any camp.
"I like to tell people he was one of the most unified human beings I've ever met," Sinton says. "The way he played was the same way that he walked and talked."
Ideal Bread recently released Transit, a second volume of Lacy originals, on Cuneiform Records. I asked Josh Sinton to select five great Steve Lacy performances and tell me why they're important.