Saxophonist Azar Lawrence is known for his contributions as sideman
to McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw.
Lawrence was the tenor saxophonist Tyner used following John
Born in Los Angeles in 1952, Lawrence's musical studies began at age
five, Azar's professional music life began in his late teens when he
was asked to join Elvin Jones' band The Jazz Machine.
During his years performing with Elvin Jones and later with McCoy
Tyner, he was also a music executive and songwriter including three
songs for Earth Wind & Fire's "Powerlight" album and performing on
keys on that disc.
As a leader his seminal work "Bridge into the New Age" in 1974 was
lauded as a classic. His discography is diverse with names like
Frank Zappa, Busta Rhymes, Woody Shaw's "Moontrane", and "Dark
Magus" by Miles Davis.
After many decades being off the recording scene, Lawrence returned
to the jazz scene in the mid-2000s. His 2010 release "Mystic
Journey" placed him amongst jazz's elder statesmen. His bold style
reminds the listener of the energy, spirituality and emotion that
John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders and others brought to jazz in the
1960s and 1970s. He rekindles the memory of one of the most
explosive eras in jazz history, channeling the fiery spirit of
Coltrane's legacy. He never discards the solid musical values in his
sinewy hands since halcyon days as a sideman with McCoy Tyner.
Unlike most Coltrane wannabes, he lived and breathed the music of
the turbulent 60s, playing with Coltrane's contemporaries and peers.
In 2015, Azar Lawrence and Montreal's Al McLean issued "Conduit"
which captures two giants of the saxophone in a mesmerizing
recording. The result is magic. 'Conduit' is iconic, and remains
true to the most classic of jazz recordings. Perhaps it is because
this session revolves around the theme of spirituality, that the
music has such a penetrating, powerful drive. Together, Lawrence and
McLean cast a distinctive modern light on iconic jazz standards, but
their affinity to post-Coltrane jazz is unmistakable.
Along with Al McLean, Azar Lawrence returns for his third visit to
the Yardbird Suite with the always exciting pianist Benito Gonzalez
and bassist Jeff Littleton. New to the group this time around is
drummer Tony Austin probably best known as a member of the
collective West Coast Get Down and as one of the drummers on Kamasi
Washington's "The Epic".