Prince Lasha / Sept 10, 1929 - Dec 12, 2008

In keeping with my tradition of profiling underrated reedsmen, we have to give the birthday nod to Prince Lasha! Pronounced "la-shay", our subject came from Fort Worth TX, where he played in the high school band with future icons Ornette Coleman, King Curtis, Dewey Redman, Charles Moffett and John Carter.

One of the great (if underknown) flautists in progressive jazz, his music sometimes displayed Eastern-tinged qualities He may remind some of Eric Dolphy, another multi-reedsman with whom Lasha collaborated, and he played alto sax and clarinet in addition to flute. (He also was a capable singer, as they say he did his best Billy Eckstine impersonations when he was younger).

After traveling to Los Angeles with Coleman in the '50s, he found himself in NYC. He cut the classic The Cry for Contemporary in '62 and the UK-recorded Insight in '66. In the '60s he gigged with John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, recorded with Dolphy, Don Cherry and Elvin Jones and in the '70s with violinist Michael White and on Gene Ammons' last record.

But his main sparring partner in those days was Sonny Simmons, with whom he made several records in the '60s & '70s with their Firebirds group. He most recently was working with Odean Pope before Lasha passed away in 2008.

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