Home Music News Laraaji Conjures a Baptism in Sound

Laraaji Conjures a Baptism in Sound

Laraaji Conjures a Baptism in Sound

He played violin as a child and majored in piano and composition at Howard University, but also explored acting and stand-up comedy. After college he moved to New York City, where he appeared in Greenwich Village clubs as a comedian and hosted shows at the Apollo Theater. He also had a role in the groundbreaking 1969 film “Putney Swope.”

“The idea of invoking laughter has always been second nature to me,” he said. “But at some point when I began exploring consciousness, cause and effect, I realized that the material I was using for comedy wasn’t the most mindfully healthy thing for me to be sharing with audiences or to be conditioning myself with. So around 1970, I faded out of comedy.”

He grew increasingly interested in meditation and in exploring the healing properties of sound. Then and now, he said, his music grows out of “improvisation, experimenting with electric zither and exotic open tunings, and performing from contemplative, meditative states.”

Through the decades, his music has embraced advancing technology: guitar pedals, synthesizers, apps, all in the service of “adventurous sound painting,” he said.

“The texture of the music is like embracing a warm, immersive, friendly, welcoming, inviting soul with a warm, fuzzy hug. Or like a nice, soothing, safe place to be vulnerable. And I think of music as inspiring movement, inspiring a body movement, inspiring a positive movement of thought and social behavior.”

Laraaji has also returned to invoking laughter, but without telling jokes. Along with his concert schedule, he presents “laughter meditation” workshops, an idea he was introduced to at an ashram in New York. “The idea was to get people relaxed, chanting into their bodies and then get them to laugh for 15 minutes lying down,” he said. “The workshop evolved into a play-shop, where I direct people how to laugh using the voice, into the body, into the head, to massage the head, the thyroid, the thymus in the chest, the heart, the abdominal organs, and then releasing air from the alveoli in the lungs. So it becomes a total inner workout.”


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