Tag Archives: Thelonious Monk

Steve Lacy – Bop, Free Jazz and Avant Garde Prog

Steven Norman Lackritz was born in New York City back in 1934. He is best known to be the first to specialize on soprano saxophone in modern Jazz, but he was also a very diverse saxophonist, from interpreting the classics masters especially Thelonious Monk, to free Jazz, avant-garde and even progressive jazz rock.

Steve Lacy playing Monk’s “Played Twice”

Starting his career playing Dixieland with various musicians from 1952-55, by the 2nd half of the 50’s he moved into more modern styles and playing with giants like free Jazz pioneer Cecil Taylor , Gil Evans, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.

From Steve Lacy Sortie 1966, this was Steve Lacy’s sixth album, the first based only on his own compositions and his first take on free jazz as a band leader.


Steve Lacy appears on Italian band Area’s fourth studio album maledetti, the album is a mystic journey of styles and moods in the more avant-garde division of progressive rock, but also inspired by free/experimental Jazz.

Lacy on Area’s “maledetti” (1976)



Blakey – Drumming in the heart of Hard Bop

Hard bop developed in the mid-1950 and is most often credited to The Jazz Messengers, led by pianist Horace Silver and drummer Art Blakey. The first recording of Hard Bop, was “A Night at Birdland”, issued as Art Blakey Quintet, the same band that would soon be renamed The Jazz Messengers.

Art Blakey Quintet – A Night at Birdland – Blues (released 1954)
Art Blakey (drums), Lou Donaldson (alto saxophone), Clifford Brown (trumpet), Horace Silver (piano),Curly Russell (bass)

Silver left The Jazz Messengers to form his own band, Art Blakey became the leader of The Jazz Messengers, and recorded under this name with an ever changing group of musicians, many who would later become Jazz legends themselves. Hard bop was an extended form of Bebop, incorporating elements of R&B and Gospel. A highlight from the period is Moanin’ an album recorded in 58, released the following year, featuring amongst others Saxophonist Benny Golson.

The Jazz Messengers – Moanin’- Moanin’ – (Released 1959)
Art Blakey – drums, Lee Morgan – trumpet, Benny Golson – tenor saxophone, Bobby Timmons – piano, Jymie Merritt – bass

From 59 to 61 the band features brilliant Jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, who was writing most of the bands material in this period. A series of great albums was recorded, amongst them Caravan, released in 63.

Caravan – Sweet n Sour – Released Feb 1963
Art Blakey – Drums, Wayne Shorter – Tenor Saxophone, Freddie Hubbard – Trumpet, Curtis Fuller – Trombone, Cedar Walton – Piano, Reggie Workman – Bass.

Unbelivable as it may seem, George Wein a well known Jazz Consert arranger, managed to create an all star Bebop tour, with a band called Giants of Jazz, featuring a dream band comprised of Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, Kai Winding, Thelonious Monk, Al McKibbon, Art Blakey, all those bandleaders in one Jazz super group. This is a performance from Copenhagen 1971.

The Giants of Jazz – Live in Copenhagen 1971
Art Blakey – drums
Dizzy Gillespie – trumpet
Al McKibbon – double bass
Thelonious Monk – piano
Sonny Stitt – alto and tenor saxophone
Kai Winding – trombone