Ku-umba Frank Lacy
Tenor,alto trombones,valve trombone,baritone horn/euphonium,tuba,trumpet/
flugalhorn,composer,arranger, vocalist,conductor,physicist.. ..yes Frank Lacy is all these .
Born August 9,1958 , sixth in a family of 13 children in Houston , Texas, he took up the piano at age 8,switching to trumpet at age 12,attending East Houston Elementary School in 1970(which had an accelerated music program and choir),baritone horn and tuba at age 13, attending Kirby Junior High School from 1971-72 under the tutelage of famed teacher James Chauvin(which won awards in University Interscholastic Competition). Upon entering high school at Houston’s famed Forest Brook High from 1972-76 under the tutelage of famed trumpeter John “Hurricane” Roberts(former musical director with Barry White), trombonist Ronald”Thunder” Thornton and clarinet prodigy Edgar Thomas. The high school was known for its marching band and jazz ensemble,which, in 1976 was the first jazz ensemble to best the Kashmere Stage Band of the movie “Thunder Soul” fame. Frank got his first professional performances with singer Joe Tex and various funk / R and B bands ,and won awards as Most Talented Musician 4 years straight.He graduated Magna Cum Laude and attended Texas Southern Southern University on a music/academic scholarship
While at Texas Southern University from 1976-79, he studied Applied Physics and Music,was a member of the famed ” Ocean of Soul” Marching Band under the direction of Benjamin Butler, and a member of the famed TSU Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Robert Lanny Steele and Howard Harris. Former TSU alumni, cohorts, and peers included Kirk Whalum,Horace Alexander Young,Michael Lewis, David Lee Jones,Wendell Brooks,Paul Carr,Don “The Judge” Patterson,and Mykal Ali. Also while attending TSU, he did session work at Allen Toussiant Studios in Lousiana(with Labelle and the Meters),subbing for famed Houston trumpeter Pat Williams with the Fifth Ward Express, leading his own jazz quintet featuring Kirk Whalum ,Horace Alexander Young, drummers Herman Matthews and Land Richards. After joining Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, a local funk/R and B group “Sacrifice”, backing band for the CBS vocal group “Justice”, opening act for national and international acts performing at Houston’s famed JB’s Entertainment Center, doing a stint through the Midwest with the group Tampa Shades and Colfax and co-leading a local funk band called Awareness,Frank moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music in 1979,studying applied trombone,jazz composition/ arranging,.film composition and conducting.
While at Berklee, Frank, while holding down the jam session stint at the famed Wally’s Jazz Club there, performed with the Chi-Lites (with Donald Harrison), the New Edition(with a young budding Bobby Brown), and the Boston Pops. Former Berklee alumni and cohorts there included Jeff Watts,Marvin “Smitty” Smith,Cindy Blackman Santana, Teri Lynne Carrington, Will Calhoun,Gene Jackson,Billy Kilson,Sipho Kunene,Aaron Scott, Ron Mahdi,Victor Bailey,David Kikoski,Terry Conley,Wallace Roney,Michael Lewis,Barry Danielian,Gerald Brazel,Tim “Bone” Williams,Clark Gayton,Ricky Ford,Scott Robinson,Brandford Marsalis,Doug Miller,Bud Revels,Jean Toussaint,Wendell Brooks,Donald Harrison,Greg Osby,Walter Beasley,Cleave Guyton,David Lee Jones, Aaron Heick, Lenora Helm Hammonds, Najee,and Shelia Ford .He also taught jazz improvisation, jazz theory and arranging at the famed Summer Jazz Workshop directed by Bubbha Thomas and Conrad Johnson in 1980-81.Later that year, on an invitation from famed trombonist Slide Hampton to join his World of Trombones, Frank moved to New York.
Upon relocation in New York, Frank joined Slide Hampton’s World of Trombones, Jackie Byard’s Apollo Stompers,Charlie Persip’s Superband,and Frank Foster’s Loud Minority Big Band. In 1982, Frank moved to New Brunswick, NJ to attend Rutgers University, studying more physics and jazz with the famed “Jazz Professors”(Larry Ridley,Ted Dunbar,Kenny Barron,Paul Jeffrey,William “Prof” Fielder, and Michael Carvin). While at Rutgers, Frank garnerned honors at the 1984 Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival with the Rutgers Jazz Ensemble as Most Oustanding Trombonist and Composer/Arranger.Later that year, he performed at the last Kool Jazz Festival in New York , after meeting famed CBS/Columbia/Sony super-exec John Hammond. Also while at Rutgers, he performed with Black Circle Poetry Ensemble,Pockets,The Sugarhill Gang,KRS-One, Yellowman,Black Uhuru, DP and the Greys, Jim Schapperoew,”Smoking” Joe Frazier and the Knockouts(w/Charles Fambrough on electric bass),the Hub City All-Stars, the William Fielder Sextet(w/ Larry Willis,Gary Bartz,and Ralph Peterson), and The Rufus Reid Quintet(w/Kirk Lightsey,Sonny Fortune, and Billy Hart),and Jr. Smoots and the Disturbers. Former Rutgers alumni and cohorts included Ralph Peterson,LarryCrockett,Larry Jones,Bernard Linnette,Sarah Hommel,Abe Fogle,Dion Parsons,Robert Bargad,Alan Watson,Lisa,Thieburger, Eli Yamin,Scott Munson,Steve Nelson,Brian Glassman,John Conte, Brad Jones,Steve Conte,Peter Bernstein, John Farnsworth,Tim Newman,Syd Judah,Michael Phillip Mossman,Adam Brenner,Dave Shoemacher,Andrew Beals,Eric Allen, and Joey Cavaseno. In 1986, Frank recieved the Pee Wee Russell scholarship, and during work on a dissertation at Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies under Dan Morgenstern,left school to tour/record with Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy.
From 1986-88, Frank has either recorded/toured/performed with the following artists: Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy,Organ Ensemble,Roots to the Source, and Blues Project,Dick Tracy,The Eurythmics,Illinois Jacquet’s Big Band(Grammy-nominated),Henry Threadgill’s Sextette and Dance Society Situation Big Band,Superblue,Bobby Watson’s Horizon, Mutabaruka,Julius Hemphill Big Band(Grammy-nominated), Oliver Lake Big Band,Hamiett Bluiett’s Telepathic Orchestra,Don Pullen’s Organorchestra, and the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band.From 1988-90 Frank performed/toured/recorded with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers(as musical director),Radam Schwartz Organ Group,and Howard Carpendale. He signed with the German-based Enja/Tutu Label from 1990-94, recording 3 CD’s as a leader….Tonal Weights and Blue Fire( featuring his father, Frank Lacy,Sr., bassist Fred Hopkins,and drummer Michael Carvin), Theme from the Musical “Poker”, and Settegast Strut-Live at JazzKlub Moods.
From 1990-2000, Frank toured with his own quartet, and toured/recorded/performed with the following artists: Steve Turre’s Santified Shells, John Stubblefield Sextet,Marty Erhlich Quintet,Michael Formanek(Grammy nominated) Octet,Carly Bley Big Band,Mick Nock Sextet,McCoy Tyner Big Band(2-time Grammy winner), Mingus Big Band(5 Grammy nominations), Roy Hargrove’s Crisol(Grammy winner) and sextet,D’Angelo,Common,Elvis Costello,Erykah Badu,Eric Benet.
From 2000-2014, Frank has toured/recorded/performed with The Mingus Big Band (as featured trombonist and vocalist) Captain Black Big Band,Revive Da Live Big Band,Danny Petroni Blues Project, the 10 32 K Collective(a trio w/bassist Kevin Ray and drummer Andrew Drury),Steve Turre Trombone Sextet, and Robin Eubanks’s Mental Images.
Frank currently coaches a Mingus ensemble at Manhattan School of Music.