Ku-umba Frank Lacy

Frank Lacy is a multi-talented musician proficient in tenor and alto trombones, valve trombone, baritone horn/euphonium, tuba, trumpet/flugalhorn. He is also a composer, arranger, vocalist, conductor, and physicist. Born on August 9, 1958, in Houston, Texas, Frank was the sixth child in a family of 13.

At age 8, Frank started playing the piano and switched to the trumpet at age 12, attending East Houston Elementary School in 1970, which had an accelerated music program and choir. At age 13, he picked up the baritone horn and tuba, attending Kirby Junior High School from 1971-72 under the tutelage of the famed teacher James Chauvin, winning awards in University Interscholastic Competition. He then attended Houston’s Forest Brook High School from 1972-76, where he studied under renowned musicians like John “Hurricane” Roberts, Ronald “Thunder” Thornton, and Edgar Thomas. During his high school years, Frank performed with singer Joe Tex and various funk/R&B bands, winning awards as the Most Talented Musician for four consecutive years. He graduated Magna Cum Laude and attended Texas Southern University on a music/academic scholarship.

At Texas Southern University from 1976-79, Frank studied Applied Physics and Music, played in the “Ocean of Soul” Marching Band, and was a member of the TSU Jazz Ensemble. He worked at Allen Toussaint Studios in Louisiana, performed with various bands, and led his jazz quintet. He later moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music in 1979, where he studied applied trombone, jazz composition/arranging, film composition, and conducting. At Berklee, Frank performed with notable artists and bands, held jam sessions at Wally’s Jazz Club, and taught jazz improvisation, theory, and arranging at the Summer Jazz Workshop.

In 1981, Frank moved to New York to join Slide Hampton’s World of Trombones. He also played with Jackie Byard’s Apollo Stompers, Charlie Persip’s Superband, and Frank Foster’s Loud Minority Big Band. In 1982, he moved to New Brunswick, NJ, to attend Rutgers University, studying physics and jazz. He received honors at the 1984 Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival and performed at the last Kool Jazz Festival in New York.

From 1986-88, Frank recorded and performed with various artists, including Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, the Eurythmics, and the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band. From 1988-90, he played with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers as the musical director. He signed with the German-based Enja/Tutu Label from 1990-94, recording three CDs as a leader.

From 1990-2000, Frank toured with his own quartet and performed with artists such as Steve Turre’s Sanctified Shells, the Mingus Big Band, and McCoy Tyner Big Band. From 2000-2014, he continued to tour and record with various bands, including the Mingus Big Band and Robin Eubanks’s Mental Images.

Currently, Frank coaches a Mingus ensemble at the Manhattan School of Music.