Ideal Bread - Beating The Teens: Songs Of Steve Lacy 2 x CDs
"Ideal Bread puts a new shine on music by Steve Lacy..." – The New York Times
"...(one) could use it as a primer for examining the master's catalog." – Jazz Times
Ideal Bread aren’t staid re-creationists; they embrace the fierce originality and rigor of Lacy’s music and remake it in an utterly distinctive way." – Downbeat
With Beating the Teens, Ideal Bread’s leader and baritone saxist Josh Sinton, who studied with Steve Lacy during the last years of the soprano sax master's life, decided to radically question and deconstruct the notion of a repertory band. Since the release of their first album in 2007, the group has existed with only two rules: 1.) Ideal Bread would be a band in the traditional sense, with the same members for every album and every show 2.) Ideal Bread would play exclusively the music of iconoclastic saxophonist-composer Steve Lacy.
And with this album, Ideal Bread continue to uphold these rules, but with a change of emphasis. As Sinton puts it, "In the beginning we were a Steve Lacy-repertory band that happened to be composed of four gifted improvisers, but along the way we’ve become a band of four gifted improvisers who happen to play the music of Steve Lacy. And the new album had to reflect that shift."
Acting on this, Sinton set out laying the groundwork for this new work. Using his concept of the musical object as a “flexible container” for the performer’s ideas and personalities, he looked around for a container large enough to hold all the idiosyncrasies and facets of his longtime band-mates Kirk Knuffke (cornet) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums) as well as their newfound member Adam Hopkins (bass).
He found what he was looking for in Scratching the Seventies/Dreams, the 3-CD box set that collects all five LP’s Steve Lacy recorded for the Saravah label from 1971 – 1977. In these recordings, some of the earliest of Lacy’s compositions and therefore almost embryonic, Sinton found, "There was enough room for us to be ourselves in this music."
Sinton transcribed all the compositions on Scratching the Seventies. But when in the past he would have left off at this point and been content to repeat these transcriptions, in this case he decided he would take the additional step of re-arranging all the pieces. In this he was guided by three considerations: 1.) He would use a compositional device no more than three times; so he would have to find unique ways of structuring the materials. 2.) He would make sure that each member had agency by insuring they had unique contexts for sounding their voices. 3.) Where possible, he would write the drum parts because as Sinton puts it, "Many of my favorite composers (Threadgill, Argue, Iyer, Braxton) can write for drums. It’s about time I learned to do the same."
Following these prescriptions has led to an album that unselfconsciously embraces the sounds of Iggy Pop, musique concrète, Mos Def, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Morphine, 17th-century Baroque and Brooklyn’s current creative music scene among many others. "I kept each new arrangement only if I could affirmatively answer the question, ‘Is this who we are?‘" says Sinton. Beating the Teens is a record that could only be made by young improvisers in the 21st century, representing as it does the conflation of sounds and influences that is a trademark of this generation of artists. On it, Ideal Bread adhere to and respect Lacy's unique compositional vision, while giving them an original approach and a new life.