Prince Lasha

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Prince Lasha
Prince Lasha and Wanda Sabir
Prince Lasha and Wanda Sabir
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Lawsha
Born(1929-09-10)September 10, 1929
Fort Worth, Texas, United States
DiedDecember 12, 2008(2008-12-12) (aged 79)
Oakland, California, United States
GenresJazz, free jazz, avant-garde jazz
InstrumentsAlto saxophone, flute, clarinet, alto flute, piccolo
Associated actsSonny Simmons, Eric Dolphy, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison

William B. Lawsha, better known as Prince Lasha (/ləˈʃ/), (September 10, 1929 – December 12, 2008)[1] was an American jazz alto saxophonist, flautist, and clarinetist.

Life and career[edit]

He was born in Fort Worth, Texas,[2][3][4] 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.[2][5][6]

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)[7][8] and the Elvin Jones/Jimmy Garrison Sextet featuring McCoy Tyner (Illumination!, also in 1963).[9]

Lasha moved to Europe and in 1966 was based in Kensington, London,[10] 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).[11]

Returning to the US in 1967,[12] 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.[13]

In the 1970s, Lasha and Simmons made additional recordings under the name Firebirds. In 2005, Lasha recorded the album The Mystery of Prince Lasha with the Odean Pope Trio.[2] Lasha died on December 12, 2008, in Oakland, California.[1]


As leader[edit]

  • The Cry! (Contemporary, 1962) with Sonny Simmons
  • Inside Story (Enja 3073, 1965 [1981])
  • Insight (CBS SBPG 62409, 1966)
  • Firebirds (Contemporary, 1967) with Sonny Simmons
  • Firebirds, Live at the Berkeley Jazz Festival Vol. 1 (Birdseye series 99001, 1974)[14]
  • Firebirds, Live at the Berkeley Jazz Festival Vol. 2 (Birdseye series 99001, 1974) (also released as Search for Tomorrow (Enja 4008, 1982))[14]
  • And Now Music (Daagnim, 1983)
  • The Mystery of Prince Lasha with the Odean Pope Trio - CIMP, 2005

As sideman[edit]

With Gene Ammons

With Eric Dolphy

With Elvin Jones / Jimmy Garrison

With Michael White


  1. ^ a b Sabir, Wanda (2008-12-19). "Wanda's Picks for Dec. 19". San Francisco Bay View. Archived from the original on 2008-12-24. Retrieved 2008-12-24.
  2. ^ a b c Rusch, Robert D. (2005). The Mystery of Prince Lasha (CD notes). Prince Lasha. Redwood, New York: C.I.M.P. CIMP 330.
  3. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Prince Lasha". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
  4. ^ Wanda Sabir gives Wellington, Texas as Prince Lasha's birthplace.
  5. ^ Litweiler, John (1994) [1992]. "Chapter 1". Ornette Coleman: A Harmolodic Life (paperback ed.). New York: Da Capo. pp. 27–30. ISBN 0-306-80580-4.
  6. ^ Cook, Richard and Brian Morton. "Prince Lasha." The Penguin Guide to Jazz on Compact Disc. 3rd edn. New York: Penguin Books USA, 1996. ISBN 0-14-051368-X
  7. ^ "Iron Man". Retrieved 2010-10-26.
  8. ^ "Conversations". Retrieved 2012-05-02.
  9. ^ "Elvin Jones/Jimmy Garrison Illumination". Retrieved 2010-10-26.
  10. ^ Clifford Allen, "Prince Lasha", All About Jazz, December 1, 2004.
  11. ^ "Prince Lasha Ensemble – Insight", Discogs.
  12. ^ "Lawsha, William B. (Prince Lasha)", Texas State Historical Association.
  13. ^ "Prince Lasha Firebirds". Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  14. ^ a b "Prince Lasha". Hello World! The Sonny Simmons Homepage. Retrieved 4 August 2020.