Prince Lasha's Inside-Outside Story
PL: I did the same experiment with Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Eric [Dolphy], standing next to these men it seemed like it was coming up through the ground, up through the bottom of the horn and out the bell, and that's one of the most mysterious, magical and frightening [things]. I stood next to 'Trane that way, and next to Rollins that way (we worked in the Jazz Workshop, went to Boston; we were all over Chicago and at the Plugged Nickel, way before your days). Those are some of the things that used to take place, and this is why I suppose you'd said that about the Texas sound.
AAJ: It's unmistakable for anything else, and it seems like you can tell where somebody is from by how they sound on their horn.
PL: Illinois Jacquet was from Texas too. There used to be a great player I traveled with named Scotty, and he could play with one arm tied behind his back he really could play tenor, and he was from Houston also. Arnett Cobb, all those guys came up out of there.
After I came off the road, I went directly to New York. When I went to New York I was in paradise. Big Nick [Nicholas] was having jam sessions, Bird was in there, Monk was in there, and Diz was in there, and there was a magazine publication called Ebony Magazine. Billy Eckstine was on the cover with his foot in a swimming pool, and in that issue I'm [pictured] inside playing at the Paradise Club, because they were doing an article on the club. I was living in Sugar Hill with Freddie Spencer, right under Sonny Rollins' mother, and I think Rollins mentioned something about that in his write-up of how everybody was living there at that timeDuke and everybody. I was staying with Freddie, working on people's horns, and he was working out on the island where the Tuberculosis cases were [sent]. Fats Navarro and other musicians also worked day jobs there.
I took Rollins' horn up to him, as he had just got back from his first accident, and we became lifelong friends after that. I later traveled with him to different areasBoston, Chicago, in New York we worked the Vanguard, and I worked off and on quite frequently with Rollins. When I first went to New York though, I worked around and met Bird and Max Roach, and I went into New York with the band that was Duke Ellington's band [minus Duke] with Jimmy Grissom, and he took Al Hibbler's place. They were playing the Band Box next to Birdland, 52nd and Broadway. One time, I was going up to the Apollo Theater to hear one of my former students, King Curtis (I had taught him at home in Texas), and my student was playing, and there was this place to jam under the theatera little bar or somethingand I went down and was jamming with this tenor man. He was playing and I was playing, and I found out in later years that it was the tenor man who was with Count Basie, Eddie "Lockjaw Davis, and if I had known who he was at the time I'd been out in the audience listening to him. I didn't know it at the time, so I was standing right next to him. I just got nervous in later years after I knew who he was, but we were jamming together quite frequently at that time. King Curtis was working upstairs before he was with Aretha Franklinwhen I left Fort Worth, I left King Curtis there (he'd been studying saxophone with us), and when I got back, he was playing piano, tenor, and doing everything.
AAJ: Did you encourage Ornette to go to New York at all?
PL: No, I didn't. I went to New York and went through all that, and I met Skeeter Best and all these guys who were with Duke, because they were all living in that building, and Rollins was living there with his mother. That's how I got the horn to him, because I was living on the next floor down, around the corner from the Savoy Ballroom.
I came back to Texas and Ornette was already gone; he'd moved to California. So I decided, I think I'll leave Texas and see what's happening in California. I got to California and met Coleman again, and he's doing his first album and telling me all about it (Something Else, Contemporary, 1958). We were talking about the New World Society, because he was studying that at the time. I took up that philosophy, and I practice it today. It's coming under the banner of Jesus Christ's father, Jehovah, and it is