Transposing the later Coltrane onto the trombone - an unusual feat
The history of jazz is also one of certain „silent stars“– one of them is Ku-umba Frank Lacy. The star galaxy is full of stars on the saxophone and Ku-umba’s main instrument – the trombone – is less suited to this, also less suitable for the spectacular. So he always remains a little bit modestly in the background and seemed and seems the more intense therefore with Brass Fantasy, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers or in the big bands of McCoy Tyner and Mingus Dynasty. It is more important to him to be with it, to be on the road to convey the message, his jazz message – the airs and graces of a star would merely get in the way; he rarely speaks of himself and ever full of awe and respect of others, the great old masters. This isn’t just the message of an Afro-American, it’s also the well-known message of the Rastaman. He prefers to place his talent as a great inspiration, expressionist and improviser at the service of making things work as a whole. Why is this album called Brass Trane ? It‘s about three long versions of Coltrane compositions from his last years and the transposition of these from saxophone onto trombone, an extraordinary bit of sleight of hand. The name ‘Ku-umba’ is Suaheli and means something like ‚creative strength‘, a characteristic that Lacy does some credit to with Welcome, Expression and Peace on Earth; more than that: it also serves him as a vehicle for transporting his own message, with his powerful voice on the trombone, earthy and in an unmistakable tailgate style, as we’ve known it ever since the 80ies.
Surprising however is Ku-umba’s expressivity on his second instrument, the trumpet or rather the flugelhorn. On this terrain he feels much more beholden to the antithesis of Coltrane, namely Miles Davis. And indeed, what a surprise! The long version of Sanctuary will be a milestone in Lacy’s career and demonstrates his wide ranging potential as a jazz artist. At the end there’s something special for a younger audience; it’s the re-arranged title Hip-Hop Swing, A Love Supreme. This Rap is not only a homage to Trane, but also it shows that Lacy is a musician of his own generation and his own times, as well as being a great admirer of the history of jazz and all the great masters of this genre.