Prince Lasha's Inside-Outside Story
PL: A lot of people are unaware about what I did during that period, because I kept it underground, just staying out in the sun like Herbie [Hancock] with my circular driveway. I'm a self-made millionaire with real estate. I've had this house in Oakland and all the cats came to visit me from New YorkSonny Rollins, Ornette, Richard Davis, Johnny Coles, Harold Land, Freddie Hubbard, Miles, Trane, Cannonball, Joe Henderson, Dewey Redman, and Moffett. All these people came up the thirty-two steps from the street to my house, like thirty-two bars in music. I live on 24th Street, because there are twenty-four bars in the blues.
AAJ: How did you come to being involved in real estate from music?
PL: Herbie Hancock introduced me to a lady from Great Britain, and that's how I was able to live behind the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, California. I'm the father of five boys and four girls, and all of the boys are musicians.
AAJ: Right, I was aware of one of your sons being a drummer [the "other Prince Lasha].
PL: Yes, and another one is also a drummer, and one is a flautist over in Sacramento. They're very well-mannered and easy to talk with, and I'm like their brother. It's like the Moffetts; we're all brothers and I don't know no sons, dig?
AAJ: How does spirituality factor into your music? I know it's a very important part of your work, and I'd like to hear your take on it.
PL Right now I've been preparing to work on some things with "His Holiness [saxophonist] Odean Pope, and my thing is that I think, speaking of his Holiness with the reeds, many reeds unite to create a harmony. In some manners concerned with the divine human relationship, I think about the saxophone choir. In listening to a piece of music, at first we do not hear the deep, fundamental tones, the surest stride of the melody on which everything else is built. After we have accustomed our ear, we find the order, as if one magic stroke a single unifying musical world emerges from this. We realize that with delight and amazement that the fundamental tone was always resounding. The melody, order and unity [are ongoing], and this is called the eternal harmony. The human existence needs music, because of all the arts music may be the most spiritual and meaningful. Music is absolutely necessary... as a means of communication and consolation, and it is interesting that it defines the highest mathematical study of arts and the relationship of other art forms, and it is the closest connectionnot with drama or with painting, but music. I find it easier to compare music because of the feeling that goes to some deeper level of communication, which emphasizes equally the role of performer and the listener.
AAJ: Right, because though it's harder with the written word, with music you can have several emotions going on at once, and you don't have to parse them you can have a synthesis in real time. You can hear it and say "this is a model for how I feel, the complete range of my emotions. It encodes everything you feel over the course of your life, and how do you express that? Music.
PL: Music proves the existence of the soul, that humans are made in the image of the creator. The soul of the universe is united by that musical concord, and we ourselves are united by music. My title is "Harmony That Is the very song of the universe itself. Music is the human outlook; we're engaged in a process, we encounter the world and its undefined source of meaning. It's that subliminal action in our course of meaning for life, which is hidden from view of consciousness.
AAJ: It reaches you on another level.
PL: Those are some of the things I think about concerning the spiritual part of the music. There's a story that sticks with me very well, and it's the story of the sun, when it didn't go down for an extra day. It was during the days of Joshua when the walls came tumbling down, because all the voices and instruments were so powerful, and this is the only time during creation that the sun stayed up one extra day. It's in the canon, the Penitudes. Music crumbled the walls of Jericho; there was no army and no way to bring those people to defeat. They had something inimitable to mankind, and that is sound. Keep that in mind as long as you livemusic is the only thing I've come across that will save your life.
AAJ: How would you say improvised music differs from written music in this context?