Prince Lasha's Inside-Outside Story
PL: The thing that makes me happy is that we're created in the image of the Almighty, and that is real because you can see that although man is in an imperfect state, he continues to progress as time goes on. We are now dealing with Saturn and the moon of Titan, but there is only one Earth. When I think about the Creator, he created two beautiful human beings, and I only go back about 5,000 years [in history] and it only took 7,000 years for the earth to come into being.
AAJ: What interests me the most is that it's always changing, and there is constancy but it's one of a greater understanding of these relationships. You never get a complete picture because it's always shifting a little bit, and you see relationships differently each day. We're talking about spirituality here, and these relationships with God and the images and relationships we have with a higher power are in constant flux. New people are born, people die, the face of God changes, as does your relationship to itand that's what I think is really beautiful. That's improvisation.
PL: Right, that's true. It's like that beautiful song, "Everything Must Change.
[Lasha stops to play "John the Gospel ]
PL: I've got a gig coming up at one of the universities in Philly, the festival is called the Trane Stop, and then I will be playing at the university in Baltimore, and I'm waiting for a callback from Paris to see if they will be recording the Firebirds on March 27. I can arrange my concerts around that; they're coming here to record me in Philadelphia. It's coming out of Nancy, France; they recorded Rufus Harley as well.
I'll be playing a lot of baritone this year because not too many people have heard that; I did some solo work on it in Italy and some work in San Jose with the World Peace Orchestra, and the baritone is a really beautiful voice. I've been playing it since high school, though I've never recorded it because I found the alto to be such a challenge. I'm really stuck on the flute for some reason, because it seems to guide the other instruments. Then I cut to the alto and it seems to guide the baritone, and the clarinet guides the alto, and the flute guides the clarinet, you know? I learned from Eric that the piccolo guides the flute, and I guess the voice guides the piccolo.
AAJ: With so many instruments you get an idea of the personality behind each instrument, and each one has a different color or range of emotions, and put together they give a semblance of a whole.
PL: I try to get all of my instruments to give off my personality, instead of picking an instrument for its personality. Most people go to the instrument for personality, but I look for what's in my structure of creation.
AAJ: Last week after we spoke, I listened to Insight again, and what struck me about it that time is that, after so many times that we've talked, listening to the solos on that record reminds me of how you talk, your cadences andit's very funny, I guess, that I've never been able to get to know someone well whose recordings I've listened to that I can hear their actual personality on record. That was a really beautiful thing because that's the first time I've ever reacted in such a way [PL laughs].
PL: Well, that was a really inspiring one because I'd had the Queen's orchestra behind me, and I'd never heard whorehouse harp beforeyou know, harpists usually play up and down the line, but I had this fellow all over the place, playing jazz behind me. Yusef Lateef had studied the instrument, and he helped it get that sound.
AAJ: It sounds like a box harp or a wooden harp; the sound is much smaller than the usual harp, almost like a flamenco guitar.
PL: Bird did his recordings with the harp in Paris, and so I said to John Hammond that we'd get the harp and do it in London. I closed it with two basses and "Just Friends. I wanted to change it up and catch the ear, so I took it at a faster tempo than usual. I'll tell you, one of my favorites is Inside Story (Enja/Birdseye), and the reissue is going to have a picture of Herbie Hancock and me on the front, and Herbie did the liner notes for it. The first time I put it out was when I took it to Germany and gave it to Horst Weber [producer of Enja recordings]; John Hammond recorded it at the time [1966, for CBS] and he had both me and John Handy on the label, and he just never got to it because I held onto the masters. Everything I've recorded, I have.
I'm also doing artwork for the releases now, since I can paintI'll paint oils of Indians riding down to water their horses, you know, and I've never studied painting. It's just something in my being that I can do it. They're about three feet high and two across, pretty large, and so now I'm going to do Daniel in the Lion's Den, and I'll put Mandela's face in there too. Every CD someone gets from me they'll know that I did the artwork for the covers. Eventually I'll have a book that will display some of the artwork too.