Prince Lasha & the Odean Pope Trio: The Mystery of Prince Lasha

Fort Worth native Prince Lasha is usually mentioned in connection with longtime collaborator Sonny Simmons or for his appearances on two Eric Dolphy albums. His first album as leader in over 20 years begs the question, Why didn’t Lasha receive more attention the first time around? At 76, he’s still an exciting soloist, at home on alto and soprano saxophones and clarinet, with decent flute and piccolo chops. Playing with tenor saxophonist Odean Pope, bassist Tyrone Brown and drummer Craig McIver, Lasha makes up for lost time with a series of strong compositions that bring out the best in him and the group.

“Coleman Captain Hornblower” is dedicated to his former classmate Ornette Coleman, with a bright melody worthy of its honoree, played over a calypso groove. Lasha introduces his unique solo style here by stringing short phrases together with trills into one long articulate statement. Pope pays tribute to the leader with the song “Prince Lasha,” in which he also seems to imitate the saxophonist’s solo approach. The tributes continue with the flute and bass duet “Eric Dolphy.” In a few instances, like the energetic “Divine Message,” some opening themes sound a little loose, but once everyone starts blowing, it’s easy to overlook the shortcomings and bask in the excitement of the music.