Bill Laswell may be the most prolific contemporary musician. As a bassist and more importantly producer and label head, he has worked with a staggering range of the world's greatest musicians and artists on hundreds of recordings.
British music critic Chris Brazier said, "Laswell's pet concept is 'collision music' which involves bringing together musicians from wildly divergent but complementary spheres and seeing what comes out." Laswell has the completely unique capacity to put musicians together from extremely disparate styles, genres and cultures to create wholly new fusions of art, music and sound. Combining jazz, funk, techno and drum and bass, hip hop, rock, reggae dub and many other world genres, Bill Laswell has been a creator of music on a level apart from most.
In 1983, Laswell as producer collaborated with Herbie Hancock to create the Future Shock album, and the single "Rockit," an international pop hit. The recording was the first major single to include dj turntable scratching, courtesy of Grandmixer D. St.
Laswell's career quickly grew from an avant garde background in the early 1980's as bassist in the band Material (who's early recordings featured guests such guests as Brian Eno, a teen-age Whitney Houston, Sonny Sharrock, Olu Dara, Henry Threadgill, Nona Hendryx, Archie Shepp, Nile Rodgers and Tony Thompson ) to a top producer in the mid to late 80's, working with Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, the Ramones, Motorhead, Public Image Limited, Bootsy Collins, White Zombie, Yoko Ono and others.
On the Celluloid label he broke new ground in early hip-hop, world music and his own avant projects working with such artists as Sly and Robbie, Jaco Pastorius, Paul Butterfield, Bernie Worrell, Manu Dibango (Nigeria), Fab Five Freddy, James Blood Ulmer, Toure Kunde (Senegal), Afrika Bambaata, Fela Kuti (Nigeria), Foday Musa Suso (Gambia), Sonny Sharrock, Bernard Fowler and Ronald Shannon Jackson. He released projects under the names Material, Praxis, Deadline, Time Bomb, Massacre, Shango and others. He also recorded as a bassist in the 80's with David Byrne, Michael Stipe, Laurie Anderson, Peter Gabriel, William S. Burroughs, Wayne Shorter, Richard Thompson, Jack Bruce,Tony Williams, Steve Vai, Jah Wobble, the Last Poets, John Zorn, and Ginger Baker.
In the 90's, he formed the Axiom label with the backing of Chris Blackwell and Island Records. Continuing with collaborative projects, he combined the talents of even more diverse artists, such as Buckethead, George Clinton, Pharoah Sanders, Paul Bowles, Maceo Parker, Elvin Jones, the Jungle Brothers, Zakir Hussain, Zigaboo Modeliste, Eddie Hazel, Julian Schnabel, and DJ Spooky. He also recorded artists from Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Gambia, and Ethiopia.
In the late 90's, Laswell released two albums of remixes from dead artists â€" Bob Marley's Dreams of Freedom and Miles Davis' Panthalassa. Few producers could have been entrusted with the master tapes of these two icon's catalogues, but he distilled the essence of Marley's work, and that of Davis' early 70's electric jazz period into ambient dub reconstructions. A few years later, he did the same thing for Carlos Santana. In the 2000's he produced the major label debut of Matisyahu and did remixes for Nine Inch Nails and Sting.
His current project is Method of Defiance. With a forthcoming live dvd/ cd, the improvisational structure of this latest amalgamation of players fuses respected jazz, funk and world musicians with drum n bass production and vocals. Typically for Laswell, every show is unique.