Today he still approaches a single song from myriad angles -- legato phrasing to smooth out a tune or fiery staccato bursts for extra punch -- and not unlike John Coltrane, he never exhausts interpretive possibilities. Lacy seems to live inside the melodies: Always lyrical, he flexes deep knowledge of jazz tradition with a masterful cool and robust tone, yet never succumbs to cliche or bravado.
At 63, Steve Lacy records new albums at the feverish pace of someone half his age. This year alone, he's on at least four memorable releases: Blinks (a double-disc collection of duos, quintets, and sextets); Communique (duets with pianist Mal Waldron); Five Facings (duets with five world-class pianists, including Marilyn Crispell); and 5 x Monk 5 x Lacy (a brilliant solo outing).
Lacy, who's lived in Europe since 1967, appears infrequently in the Bay Area; in the past five years he's played only a short stint at Yoshi's. That means one thing to jazzheads of all persuasions: Reserve tickets early.
-- Sam Prestianni
The Steve Lacy Trio perform on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. in the Oakland Museum's James Moore Theater (10th Street at Fallon). Tickets are $15; call (510) 451-5231.