Prince Lasha: Congo Call
Prince Lasha (flute)
The Cry! (Contemporary 1945)
Mark Proctor (bass), Gene Stone (drums).
Composed by Prince Lasha & Sonny Simmons.
Recorded: Los Angeles, CA, November 21, 1962
Rating: 88/100 (learn more)
Prince Lasha grew up with Ornette Coleman in Fort Worth, TX, playing with the great altoist in R&B and church groups. As adults their paths diverged, but their music continued in similar stylistic directions. Yet they found vastly different degrees of notoriety, with Lasha attracting attention briefly in the early 1960s only to thereafter disappear from the jazz world. Here he teams with Sonny Simmons, an altoist who owed much of his sound to Coleman. On the African-inspired "Congo Call," Lasha's and Simmons' vibrato-less tones blend well as they piece together an exotic melody over an octave-doubled ostinato by bassists Peacock and Proctor. Though both Simmons and Lasha stay mostly inside the minor harmony, there are a few exciting moments that indicate their cutting-edge interest in freeing their improvisations from conventional norms. While Simmons's brittle, wailing tone is reminiscent of Coleman, his playing is more precise and with no superfluity. Lasha articulates the blues of his Texas upbringing during his solo, while developing a few distinct themes. Hypnotic, dramatic and evocative, "Congo Call" is an undemanding and under-recognized early free jazz recording.
Reviewer: Matt Leskovic