Prince Lasha Quintet featuring Sonny Simmons: The Cry! (1962)
Give a quick listen to this CD and you might be tempted to write off Prince Lasha and Sonny Simmons as Ornette Coleman knockoffs, albeit good ones. The reality is that Lasha had been playing with Coleman since high school, swapping ideas and looking for fellow players in a world that wasn’t quite ready for what they had to offer. Coleman broke through first, and finally people were ready for Lasha; The Cry, one of Lasha and Simmons’ only appearances on record, present them as a fine working unit that never quite garnered that much attention. Both Coleman and Lasha have similar approaches, yet Lasha’s compositions are more accessible than Coleman’s. Unlike Haden and Higgins, the rhythm section is content to follow a very consistent pulse (unusual for Peacock), providing a firm base that allows the two horns to explore all sorts of terrain. The heads (such as they are) are practically hummable and almost pretty. Simmons sounds quite a bit like a Coleman with more precision, and in fact may be using a plastic alto; Lasha prefers a wooden flute, which gives his passages a dark, earthy tone that contrasts well with the bitter, vibratoless sax. One can be forgiven for thinking that this is Simmon’s date; he gets two songs all to himself without Lasha, both of which show that he could have been a major player in the free jazz area if the cards were dealt differently. These guys probably don’t understand harmolodics any more than you do, but are still capable of creating fine free jazz that succeeds at being adventurous without being demanding.
Track Listing: Congo Call, Bojangles, Green and Gold, Ghost of the Past, Red's Mood, Juanita, Lost Generation, A.Y.
Personnel: Prnice Lasha-flute, Sonny Simmons-alto sax, Gary Peacock, Mark Proctor-bass, Gene Stone-drums.
Record Label: Fantasy Jazz