Hot House

Steve Lacy makes so many records that it’s hard to keep up, but Hot House is a standout. Today’s foremost soprano saxophonist is an improviser’s improviser, and when he bites into knotty jazz classics, as he does on this album, you can be certain he’ll find new ways to chew them up. Lacy, with his serpentine tone, can take a phrase, invert it, repeat it, permute it, and build an entirely fresh melodic construction on it. Pianist Mal Waldron, with whom he first recorded more than 10 years ago, is an ideal partner, providing a sleek, rhythmically implacable platform for Lacy to deconstruct classics by Herbie Nichols, Bud Powell, Tadd Dameron, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, and Sidney Bechet. Bechet was the man who introduced the soprano saxophone into jazz, and Lacy pays homage to him with a version of his most famous melody, ”Petite Fleur,” that begins and ends in a kind of high-pitched bird song. The tempos don’t vary all that much, but, on its own terms, each of these pieces mesmerizes. A-

Hot House
  • Music