Cultural Percussionist

Prince Lasha Day

William B. Lawsha, better known as Prince Lasha (pronounced “La-shay“), (September 10, 1929 – December 12, 2008)[1] was an American jazzalto saxophonist, flautist, and clarinetist.

He was born in Fort Worth, Texas, where he came of age studying and performing alongside fellow I.M. Terrell High School students John Carter, Ornette Coleman, King Curtis, Charles Moffett, and Dewey Redman.

Lasha moved to California during the 1950s. In the 1960s, he was active in the burgeoning free jazz movement, of which his Fort Worth cohort Ornette Coleman was a pioneer. Lasha recorded with Eric Dolphy (Iron Man and Conversations, both in 1963) and the Elvin Jones/Jimmy Garrison Sextet featuring McCoy Tyner (Illumination! in 1964).

Lasha moved to Europe and in 1966 was based in Kensington, London, The album Insight (1966) by the Prince Lasha Ensemble was recorded in England and featured local musicians, including Bruce Cale, Dave Willis, Jeff Clyne, Rick Laird, Joe Oliver (drums), David Snell (harp), Mike Carr, Stan Tracey, John Mumford (trombone) and Chris Bateson (trumpet).

Returning to the US in 1967, Lasha worked closely with saxophonist Sonny Simmons, with whom he recorded two albums, The Cry (1962) and Firebirds (1967), for Contemporary Records. The latter album received five stars and an AMG Albumpick at Allmusic.

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