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Byard Lancaster: From A Love Supreme to The Sex Machine

Clifford Allen By

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After Lancaster left France for the final time, he returned to New York in 1978 and then back to Philadelphia shortly after, as a return to his roots. He "always [has] to return to Philly," and it holds a special connection for those who have come up through its ranks. "Philadelphia is a tribal city... it is the spiritual capital of the United States and rivals Mecca. The laws of the country and its culture were born there, and we are the root of all culture in the world because we're running the world culture now and the root of America is Philadelphia."

Lancaster's labels Dogtown and Philly Jazz both reference the history of Philadelphia and its height as the cultural capital. "Even though we call it 'Philly Jazz,' it really means music," and Lancaster wants to bring jazz, R&B, rock, reggae and all other forms of music to the streets, schools and to the people. "I've been organizing since I was born, and [finding time to practice] is one of the reasons I play on the streets, because I sit there for about three or four hours without moving. It's a great marketing scheme—if I want to sell 20,000 records to the people in my community, then the people should know me and the next thing is that I should create music that they really love."

Byard Lancaster knows that building from the ground up is the first step in the process of sonic and spiritual liberation.

Recommended Listening:

Sunny Murray—Sunny Murray Quintet (ESP, 1966)

Bill Dixon—Intents and Purposes (RCA-Victor, 1967)

Burton Greene—Presenting Burton Greene (Columbia,1968)

Byard Lancaster—It's Not Up To Us (Vortex-Water Music, 1968)

David Eyges Trio—Crossroads (Music Unlimited, 1980)

David Eyges/Byard Lancaster—Lightnin' Strikes! (Black&Blue, 1988)

Byard Lancaster—Worlds (Gazell, 1993)

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