Odean Pope's Saxophone Choir: Prince La Sha


Prince La Sha


The Odean Pope Saxophone Choir


The Saxophone Shop (Soul Note SN 1129)

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Odean Pope (tenor sax), Gerald Veasley (bass),

Julian Pressley (alto sax), Sam Reed (alto sax), Robert Landham (alto sax), Bob Howell (tenor sax), Arthur Daniel (tenor sax), Bootsie Barnes (tenor sax), Joe Sudles (bari sax), Eddie Green (piano), and Dave Gibson (drums)


Composed and arranged by Odean Pope


Recorded: Brooklyn, September 30 or October 1, 1985


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

With his Saxophone Choir, Odean Pope ups the ante on such sax-centric ensembles as the World Saxophone Quartet, ROVA, and the Julius Hemphill Sextet. Pope's band masses not four, not six, but eight saxes (three altos, four tenors, and bari) plus an explosive rhythm section to create adventurous, intricately conceived music delivered with the power of a full-sized big band. "Prince La Sha" is named for the late free jazz flutist and saxophonist Prince Lasha, who first made his name in the 1960s recording with the likes of saxophonist Sonny Simmons, and who recorded with Pope as recently as 2005 (twenty years after this music was recorded). The tune is as "out" as the Saxophone Choir gets. It begins with the saxes playing Pope's fanfare-like melody sans rhythm, then segues abruptly into an agitated improvised duet between Pope and drummer Dave Gibson before the rest of the saxes return to restate the theme. The structure is simple, the Pope/Gibson interlude commanding. Pope is one of the most intense post-Coltrane saxophonists, and this presents him at the top of his game. Exciting, inspired stuff, and a worthy tribute to Lasha.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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