June 7, 2004 by

Steve Lacy


Categories: Education, Musicians

Steve Lacy, a prolific soprano saxophone player and educator, died on June 4 from cancer. He was 69.
Born Steven Lackritz, the New York native originally played the piano and clarinet. He switched to the soprano saxophone in the early 1940s after hearing Sidney Bechet play the straight instrument in the song, “The Mooche.” In his 20s, Lacy performed at the Central Plaza in New York and the Newport Jazz Festival. He later played with Cecil Taylor, Mal Waldron and Thelonious Monk.
For the majority of his five-decade career, Lacy lived abroad. He traveled first to Argentina, then moved to Rome where his and his wife — Swiss singer and violinist Irene Aebi — worked with the Musica Elettronica Viva quartet. In 1970, the expatriate sax player known for his inventive brand of Dixieland, bebop and avant guard melodies, relocated to Paris and began his “post-free” period. This time of organic experimentation featured the addition of artistic and literary dimensions to his work.
Lacy recorded more than 20 solo saxophone albums, and played on 200 other records. After receiving the MacArthur Fellowship (Genius Grant) in 1992, he published the book, “Findings: My Experience With the Soprano Saxophone.” He was also appointed the Chevalier and Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government’s ministry of culture.
Lacy returned to America in 2002 and spent his final years teaching at the New England Conservatory of Music.
Listen to a Tribute From NPR

2 Responses to Steve Lacy

  1. Matthew Vestuto

    I knew Steve Lacy very little, but was very fortunate to have been able to spend time with him. He was generous with himself. A very lovely man, and will be sorely missed by me. My condolences to Irene Aebi, and the members of the Steve Lacy Sextet.

  2. Roy Herzlich

    I was extremly lucky to get the chance to meet Steve lacy and be inspired by him.
    was so sad to hear the bad news.
    will always remember him and his kindness.
    Roy Herzlich

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