Prince Lasha's Inside-Outside Story
I had a friend in New York named Fred Lyman, who I recorded in 1963 It is Revealed with Clifford Jordan and Don Cherry [Lyman was the "RWF referred to by Valerie Wilmer, who may have recorded the only known tape of Ornette and Albert Ayler jamming]. I had a loft there and an apartment with Lyman, who played flugelhorn, and I had him and Don Cherry, Oliver L. Harris on bass, bassist Bill Woods, Moffett on drums, Clifford Jordan, Simmons on alto, and I was playing flute and leading the group. He had what they call a Paraguay Inheritance, meaning he had an inheritance but was the black sheep of the family, and was very eccentric. He became my best friend, because he spent hundreds and thousands of dollars to see that I was comfortable in New York, and I was able to buy Simmons an English horn. He put me up on the sixth floor of a building half a block from the Five Spot, and that's where Trane used to come during intermissions, and he said "I can't walk these steps, I have to run 'em! Rollins used to come around too, bringing fruit for us. I had Mike White living with me, Simmons and Moffett too. I had been going about New York getting all these datesI got Illumination [with Elvin Jones, Impulse, 1963] and I got one for Audio Fidelity [Jazz Tempo, Latin Accents, 1963], and I got a gig at Birdland on Monday nights with Mike White, Richard Davis, Gary Peacock, Moffett and Simmons.
AAJ: I was actually interested in how you met Charles Moffett. He seems like such an important figure in your life.
PL: I met him in high school and he was playing trumpet and drums. I had a combo called the Tympani Five with Moffett on drums and Ornette on tenor, and [that was when] I was transcribing the music off of Louis Jordan's solos. Moffett was playing trumpet with us too, as he was such a brilliant musician. His sons are very brilliant too, and I had the pleasure of spending the week with Charnett Moffett recently. [Charles] Moffett went to New York with Coleman, and he made Coleman because he was the greatest drummer in the world. He'd been playing with me for a long time in Texas before that, too.
AAJ: How did the front line come together for Illumination? It was such an interesting group of horn players.
PL: I asked Trane if I could use his rhythm section and he said he would have to think about it, so he thought about it for a week or so, and Elvin was going to do an album, so I thought I'd go over there on that side. I had gotten that date and took Simmons with me. I got that date with Eric Dolphy [Conversations, FM, 1963; Iron Man, Douglas, 1963] too, and I told him I wouldn't record unless I could have my publishing. He went back and talked to Alan Douglas, and I told Alan to go fuck himself and he said, "okay, you can have your publishing. I put "Music Matador in there, which was a calypso. Eric was very upset because I wouldn't record with him; he was bringing me groceries and stuff for my apartment, and he was my dear friend. I said "fuck it, I'm not going to record and I'm very pleased that I was able to keep my publishing because I'm now collecting on that piece. I went to New York playing futuristic music, and I had been playing futuristic music out here with Simmons and Gary [Peacock].
AAJ: There wasn't anything like The Cry coming out of New York at the time; it was a very different approach to composition.
PL: If you read the reviews of Nat Hentoff, he'll say the same thing you just said. I think it was in Atlantic Monthly, that I had a very warm and invigorating sound that most jazz players on the flute couldn't do. Of course, Simmons was getting a sound that you couldn't believe unless you heard it.
AAJ: There was just so much empathy between you and Simmons that it almost sounded as though you were of one mind. If you have two Eric Dolphys you still have two Eric Dolphys, rather than two different players similarly complementing one another. It's not always that common in a front line. That's the way I'd characterize it total empathy.
PL: There's quite a bit of talking about The Cry still going on today, but I have twenty some titles that I'm still sitting on today that haven't been heard yet.
AAJ: When did you go to England?