Prince Lasha Quintet

The Cry!

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In the early '60s, flutist Prince Lasha's work with alto saxophonist Sonny Simmons was often compared to the trailblazing free jazz that Ornette Coleman was exploring at the time. To be sure, Coleman was a major inspiration to both of them. And yet, The Cry! demonstrates that Lasha's work with Simmons had an avant-garde energy of its own. Coleman is a strong influence on this 1962 session -- which Lasha co-led with Simmons -- but The Cry! isn't an outright imitation of Coleman's work any more than Phil Woods' recordings are outright imitations of Charlie Parker's. For one thing, The Cry! is slightly more accessible than the albums that Coleman recorded for Atlantic in the early '60s. Free jazz performances like "Bojangles," "A.Y.," and the rhythmic "Congo Call" are abstract, cerebral, and left-of-center, but they're still a bit more accessible than Coleman's harmolodic experimentation. The same thing goes for the Latin-influenced "Juanita" and the bluesy "Red's Mood," which is Coleman-minded but also has a strong Charlie Parker influence -- in fact, the tune successfully bridges the gap between Bird and Coleman and shows listeners what those altoists had in common. It should be noted that, even though The Cry! (which employs Gary Peacock or Mark Proctor on acoustic bass and Gene Stone on drums) is free jazz, it isn't the blistering, ferocious stuff that Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, and late-period John Coltrane were known for in the 1960s. This album is quirky and dissonant, but it isn't harsh or confrontational. In avant-garde circles, The Cry! went down in history as one of Lasha's finest accomplishments -- and deservedly so.

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