Prince lasha ensemble insight - Kingbee Records Shop in Manchester - Jazz records on vinyl.


    Considering how small Prince Lasha ’s (pronounced La-shay) catalog is, anything new is an event. Insight was recorded and released by CBS in the . in 1966. It featured the American saxophonist and flutist in the company of great British jazzmen. They include pianists Stan Tracey or Mike Carr (lesser known but equally brilliant), trumpeter Chris Bateson , trombonist John Mumford , drummer Joe Oliver , two pair of bassists playing simultaneously, in Rick Laird (later of Mahavishnu Orchestra fame), and Jeff Clyne , or Dave Willis and Bruce Cale . Finally, the addition of David Snell ’s harp in a major role adds to the textural and extended harmonic reach of this set. That said, this is not an exploratory outside date, but a straight-ahead session of originals and standards, divided between uptempo numbers and ballads. The set opens with a Lasha original called “Nuttin’ Out Jones,” written for drummer Elvin Jones , whom Lasha played with. It’s one of the standouts here, with all three frontline horns kicking off a brightly swinging head that’s airy, bright, and breezy. The first solo is a tight, hard bop taken by the harp and backed beautifully by the dancing drums of Oliver and Laird ’s bassline playing pizzicato before Clyne comes in under the radar playing arco. Lasha takes the next solo on his plastic white alto saxophone, bluesing it up and bopping it out. This is followed by the standard “Out of Nowhere,” that showcases Snell ’s harp leading a heady groove with a guitarist’s nimble facility. His solo is dynamite. The ballad “Body & Soul” is the first place we hear Lasha ’s signature wood flute playing, and it’s utterly lovely. The lilting, sparse phraseology he uses is deeply emotive and songlike, as is the trumpet solo by Bateson . Side two kicks off with another Lasha original, called “Impressions of Eric Dolphy.” The intro is slow and graceful, with harp, flute, and trumpet leading the way. Yusef Lateef is credited as co-writer for the intro and the cadenzas. Shortly after this elegant stroll, the tune breaks into a sprint with Lasha ’s alto solo followed by the other horns; the taut bass section pushes the tempo envelope, and the hard-swinging drumming of Oliver underscores. Two standards close out the set: there's an archetypical reading of “Everything Happens to Me,” on which Tracey adds his percussive piano touches in an otherwise extremely restrained ballad, and the final cut, “Just Friends,” sends the set out the way it came in, on a fingerpopping groove with Lasha using an edgier tone on his alto solos -- the only place on the record that even resembles outside. Here again, Tracey is physical in his savvy, swaggering fills and comps. For all its traditionalism, this is indeed a major date for Lasha and reveals how deeply ensconced he was in the bop and swing lineages. Thanks to Dusty Groove, this rare gem has finally been released in North America for the first time in any form.

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