Prince Lasha's Inside-Outside Story
"There was a time when American jazz musicians were automatically accepted to be the best in the field. That seems a long time ago now. Over the years, a growing number of opportunities for British and American musicians...to play jazz togetherconcerts, clubs, pubshas provided a wealth of evidence that there are no nationalistic, or racialistic barriers or boundaries...
Word of mouth accounts and press write-ups have been the only media for publicizing these important happenings. No more than a minute fraction of the evidence has found its way onto commercial recordings. Now CBS have taken a significant step in the right direction by producing the enclosed album, which combines the talents of the American exponent of the alto saxophone and flute, Prince Lasha, and a group of British players..."
For Elvin Jones he wrote "Nuttin' Out Jones, one of the two Lasha originals performed here.
AAJ: Right, where Stan Tracey takes that real Monk-ish solo.
PL: Yeah, right!
"Apart from having occasionally ventured into free form, Prince has one other affinity with Ornettehis use of the plastic alto. Although he attributes this to an earlier innovator "Charlie Parker played it firston the Jazz at Massey Hall album. He used it on some beautiful ballads.
AAJ: But didn't he pawn his usual horn and all they could find him was a plastic one?
"Not hearing the metallic sound of the saxophone interested me quite a bit, so that's why I play it. Then I chose the wood flute to go with that. All wood instruments seem to have a warm feeling to them. And I like the gentle sound of the flute, plus the range that it has. You can reach out and do so many things with it. It's so flexible. All the possibilities haven't been recorded yet, because there haven't been too many musicians using it [One year later, Don Cherry would record on it for MPS (Eternal Rhythm), and cement his stature as one of the primary exponents of wood and bamboo flutes].
"I really enjoyed making it. From the beginning, everybody played extremely beautifulright up to the top standard. For a studio album, it was excellent. It was close to being alive to me. They all seemed to express the right feelings on the right tunes at the right time. This was a labor of love.
"I like Stan Tracey's chord structure, and that ringing-bell sound that he gets. Chris Bateson has a round, full trumpet tone that reminds me of Idrees Sulieman, who I used to play with in New York. And John Mumford played wonderfully relaxed trombonehis conception is very individual.
"As for having the two basses that's something I do whenever I can, I feel that when one bass is playing arco and the other pizzicato, and they're switching from time to time, you have so much background, like in paintings and movies. When you get ready to build, you do it from the bottom, and string instruments are very important.
AAJ: You did that too on The Cry, and Coltrane would use Art Davis and Jimmy Garrison together. It would stop time and expand it in this circular, allover way that's really interesting. The music expands much more than it might otherwise; it's not so linear.
PL: Right. I did that Matt Dennis tune, "Everything Happens to Me, that way and I enjoyed playing "Just Friends on that record; we really took it someplace else, playing it with that group.
AAJ: It's funny, when I think of standards I often think ofwell, with "Alone Together, I can only think of Eric and Richard Davis playing it.
PL: Didn't they play "Just Friends too? I seem to recall that.
AAJ: I think so, yes.
PL: The theme of Eric Dolphy belongs to that CBS record, because he was a good friend, and I wrote that tune ["Impressions of Eric Dolphy ] that Yusef Lateef contributed the tempo section with the flute playing the birds-eye cadenza. Playing "Just Friends, I took it way up there.
I had a recording date in Pisa, Italy. I've got two masters made of that, and one from Florence where I had about five hundred people sitting in the stands, and out on the rocks and bricks they make streets from I had about another thousand. The sun was going down and all of a sudden, the moon was coming up at about six or eight times the size of the sun. I'd never, to this day, seen the moon that large, and I was playing a flute solo called "Eric Dolphy Remembered, and then I did the baritone which was my longest-ever baritone solo. Then, I did "Divine Message, on soprano that was dedicated to Coltrane. This was in 1980. I'm naming the CD Il Manifesto.