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Laraaji in 2019
Laraaji in 2019
Background information
Birth nameEdward Larry Gordon
Also known asLaraaji Venus Nadabrahmananda[1][2]
Born1943 (age 79–80)
Philadelphia, United States
Instrument(s)Zither, hammered dulcimer, piano, violin, music sequencer, keyboards
Years active1979–present

Laraaji (born Edward Larry Gordon, 3 May 1943) is an American multi-instrumentalist specializing in piano, zither and mbira. His albums include the 1980 release Ambient 3: Day of Radiance, produced by Brian Eno as part of his Ambient series.

Early life and career[edit]

Born Edward Larry Gordon in Philadelphia,[2] he studied violin, piano, trombone and voice in his early years in New Jersey.[3] He attended Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C., where he studied composition and piano.[4] After studying at Howard, he spent time in New York City pursuing a career as a stand-up comedian and actor, as well as playing Fender Rhodes electric piano in a jazz-rock band ‘Winds of Change’.[5]

In the early 1970s, he began to study Eastern mysticism and believed he'd found a new path for his music and his life. It was also at this time he bought his first zither from a local pawn shop. Converting it to an electronic instrument, he began to experiment using the instrument like a piano. By 1978, he developed enough skill to begin busking in the parks and on the sidewalks of New York. He favored the northeast corner of Washington Square Park, where he would improvise for hours on end with his eyes closed.[6]

The following year he was encountered by Brian Eno while playing in Washington Square Park,[7] who went on to produce his most widely recognized release, Ambient 3: Day of Radiance, the third installment of Brian Eno's Ambient series.[8] This was his first album released under the name of Laraaji.

This international exposure led to requests for longer versions of his compositions which he supplied to meditation groups on cassette tapes. It also resulted in an expansion of his mystic studies with such gurus as Swami Satchidananda and Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, founder of the Ananda Ashram in Monroe, New York.[9]

In 2022, Laraaji joined with Medicine Singers—a group of Native American ritual performance artists in partnership with other artists—to play on their self-titled album.[10]

Laraaji started the Laughter Meditation Workshops, which he still presents around the globe.[11][when?]

Critical reception[edit]

In 2018, Pitchfork reviewing the reissue Vision Songs - Vol .1 said it was atypical of his having lyrics. They said the message rather than the singing or songs seemed to be the focus, but they came across as "new-age boilerplate".[12]


With others[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Laraaji Nadananda". 2008. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Petrusich, Amanda (March 2, 2023) [February 27, 2023]. "The Transcendence of Laraaji". The New Yorker. Vol. 99, no. 3. pp. 64–66. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  3. ^ "Laraaji - Biography". Billboard. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  4. ^ Aref, Omar (June 21, 2009). "Ambient laughter". New Straits Times. ProQuest 272173874.
  5. ^ Galil, Leor. "Zither maestro Laraaji continues exploring musical paths no one else can see". Chicago Reader. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  6. ^ Beta, Andy (August 21, 2015). "From Stand-Up Comic to Master of Trance Music". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  7. ^ Mark Richardson (August 7, 2015). "Laraaji: All In One Peace Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  8. ^ Pattison, Louis (November 2015). "Ambient 3: Day Of Radiance". Uncut. ProQuest 1737438785.
  9. ^ "Legendary Musician Of Mysticism And Harlem Resident Laraaji (Video) – Harlem World Magazine". Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  10. ^ "Medicine Singers announce debut LP, share "Daybreak"". The FADER. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  11. ^ "Laraaji: the Brian Eno of laughter | Music". The Guardian. February 20, 2015. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Laraaji: Vision Songs, Vol. 1". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 23, 2022.
  13. ^ Edward Larry Gordon - Celestial Vibration, retrieved August 23, 2022
  14. ^ Laraaji - Vision Songs - Vol. I, retrieved August 23, 2022
  15. ^ Laraaji - In A Celestial Water Garden, retrieved August 23, 2022
  16. ^ "Blues Control / Laraaji: FRKWYS Vol. 8". Pitchfork. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  17. ^ a b "Laraaji:Sun Gong and Bring on the Sun". Pitchfork. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  18. ^ a b "Laraaji:Sun Gong and Bring on the Sun review – shimmering sonic explorations". The Guardian. September 14, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  19. ^ "Laraaji / Arji OceAnanda /Dallas Acid: Arrive Without Leaving". Pitchfork. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  20. ^ "Laraaji, Merz and Shahzad Ismaily: Dreams of Sleep and Wakes of Sound — an experimental odyssey". July 5, 2019. Archived from the original on December 11, 2022. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  21. ^ Lewis, John (June 21, 2019). "Merz/Laraaji/Ismaily: Dreams of Sleep and Wakes of Sound review". The%20Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  22. ^ "Laraaji: Sun Piano". Pitchfork. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  23. ^ Lewis, John (July 10, 2020). "Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Carlos Niño: Chicago Waves review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved November 12, 2020.

External links[edit]