Bill Laswell

Fundraiser to Help Bill Laswell

Dealing with a whole host of preexisting health conditions, Bill’s musical output has been seriously curtailed by Covid, which is basically a death sentence should he be infected. With the risk too great, he has not been able to keep up his usual pace, working alongside other musicians and engineers in his Jersey studio. The pandemic has also forced him to cancel live appearances at European festivals, where he has generated the bulk of his income. To add insult to injury, he is now desperately searching for a place to live after getting evicted from his current Manhattan home. He is also struggling to hold on to the lease for Orange Music, the legendary New Jersey studio that he has helmed for the last 20 years. Bill is putting the call out to all fans, friends, and fellow artists: If you can help, please chip in. It’s NOW or NEVER, and no contribution is too small.

Bill Laswell Interviewed and Profiled

It didn’t take long for things to start happening fast for Bill in NY. Bouncing around between CBGBs and the loft scene, he was introduced to many diverse players and started expanding his own musical palette. Sometimes he would meet someone who would offer to take him straight from the gig he’d just done directly to a studio recording session. No money was mentioned, but it was a good opportunity to get your name known. At one of these sessions, Bill watched everyone going into the control room in between takes to listen to the playback. He usually wouldn’t join them, but on this occasion he noticed a guy in the control room wearing a Magma t-shirt. Hardly anybody in NY knew about the French band at that time, but Bill did. He had to meet this guy. He walked up to him and said “you know Magma?”. The response he gets was “I was their manager.” It’s Giorgio Gomelsky.
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John Zorn and Bill Laswell Team Up for First Duo Album, “The Cleansing”

“Recorded in early 2021, near the end of the year’s pandemic lockdown, it marks the first time Zorn had touched the saxophone in over fifteen months,” the album description explains. “Laswell had spent most of the year locked in his apartment. Something special was happening that day—and after the session Laswell felt rejuvenated—as if all the toxins and poisons had left his body. Soulful and essential, The Cleansing is an historic meeting.”

Wadada Leo Smith with Milford Graves and Bill Laswell: Sacred Ceremonies

On Sacred Ceremonies (TUM), the brilliant trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith duos and trios with drummer/herbalist Milford Graves and electric bassist Bill Laswell. Recorded in 2015-16, the three-disc box set serves as testament to the percussive genius of Graves, who died earlier this year, and to the late-period brilliance of Smith, whose recent discography includes uncompromising solo and small-group projects as well as visionary long-form—sometimes days long—undertakings. The two Sacred Ceremonies duet albums contain beautifully austere dialogues that pay off in the joyful, bubbling swing of the trio in full spiritual flight.

Wadada Leo Smith and Bill Laswell Dedicate ‘Sacred Ceremonies’ to Milford Graves

Sacred Ceremonies is dedicated to the late Milford Graves, who died in early 2021. As a percussionist, he was peerless. As a sideman, he always rose above his duties. He transcended what it meant to be a part of a “rhythm section” as far back as the late 1950s. To call him a drummer would be like calling Picasso a doodler, and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith’s Sacred Ceremonies is a fitting, if not comprehensive, tribute to Graves’ legacy.

Sacred Ceremonies by Wadada Leo Smith with Milford Graves and Bill Laswell (TUM Records)

Chicago was a hub in the Black cultural movement of the ‘60s and was home to many creative endeavors, including the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (which spun off into the Art Ensemble of Chicago). One of AACM’s members, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, has gone on to a prolific career as a music educator and recording artist.

Wadada Leo Smith, Bill Laswell, and Milford Graves: Sacred Ceremonies & Trumpet

The 1960's and '70s held such promise, but many artists settle for what is handed down. Two new box sets featuring Wadada Leo Smith with Bill Laswell and Milford Graves show three visionaries willing to build on those promises without compromise. Wadada Leo Smith with MIlford Graves and Bill Laswell.

Wadada Leo Smith with Milford Graves and Bill Laswell: Sacred Ceremonies

As he approached his eightieth birthday, Wadada Leo Smith could have been content to sit out the year of nothingness that Covid-19 brought in 2020 and beyond. With his 2013 Pulitzer Prize nomination, a 2016 Doris Duke Award, and nearly one-hundred recording credits, the trumpeter & multi-instrumentalist has landed at the top of countless polls throughout his distinguished career. But, stepping away from the music, if only for a brief respite, is not part of the improviser's plan so, in the first half of 2021, Smith gives us two TUM Records box sets. Here, the focus is on his three-disc release, Sacred Ceremonies.

Happy Birthday Bill Laswell

Happy birthday Bill Laswell. Oscillate wildly. Read our review of the excellent Ornette Coleman tribute album featuring Laswell, John Zorn, Patti Smith, Nels Cline, Thurston Moore, Laurie Anderson, Branford Marsalis, Cecil Taylor and more:. Essential New Music: Ornette Coleman And Various Artists’ “Celebrate Ornette”