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Before & After: Bill Laswell

In this no-holds-barred listening session, the legendary bassist and producer comments on tracks featuring Esperanza Spalding, Michael Henderson, Bootsy Collins, Stanley Clarke and others

Bill Laswell (c/o Cuneiform)
Bill Laswell (c/o Cuneiform)

Many musicians have worked in a wide range of genres, but few have collaborated with the top names in each of those styles like Bill Laswell has. On bass, or as a producer, he’s made music with some of the most important figures in rock (Iggy Pop, Ramones), reggae (Sly and Robbie, Lee “Scratch” Perry), world music (Manu Dibango, Hassan Hakmoun), funk (Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell), the Downtown scene (John Zorn, Fred Frith), jazz (Herbie Hancock) and avant-garde jazz (Pharoah Sanders, Sonny Sharrock). Regardless of place, he’s always in good company.

At a Manhattan restaurant in mid-January, the reserved but opinionated artist, 63, shared his favorite prog bands, talked about the influence of Miles bassist Michael Henderson, discussed the group he almost had with Jeff Beck and Tony Williams, and revealed that there might be some music on the way from himself and Ornette Coleman.

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