*Mobile, AL — December 9th marks a monumental date in jazz history. It was on that date in 1964 that jazz icon John Coltrane released on the Impulse jazz recording label what many consider one of the most influential and successful jazz albums in modern history, “A Love Supreme.”
Testimony to the monumental influence of “A Love Supreme” can be heard from legendary guitarist John McLaughlin to Branford Marsalis to younger jazz performers such as Joshua Redman.
[email protected], in commemoration of that musical milestone will present in concert, “The Azar Lawrence Quartet.” In 2007, Clarion Jazz released the widely acclaimed live performance album, “The Legacy and Music of John Coltrane” featuring “Azar Lawrence and “The Edwin Bayard Quartet.” Jazz critics and fans alike agree that Azar Lawrence is the unchallenged heir to the musical throne of John Coltrane.
Lawrence, whose mother had been a superb classically trained pianist in her own right, recognized his musical aptitude early on. Lawrence was a musical prodigy by the age of five and highly proficient on both the violin and piano. His latest 2010 album, “Mystic Journey”, is wowing jazz music critics here and abroad. Downbeat Magazine said of “Mystic Journey” in its September 10, 2010 review of the CD, “the John Coltrane legacy hits from the get-go on Mystic Journey”.
JazzTimes writer Don Heckman wrote in JazzTimes of Lawrence’s heir apparency to John Coltrane, “Lawrence is one of the most authentic of the Coltrane-influenced tenor players.” When Coltrane died in 1967, Coltrane’s pianist and musical conductor “McCoy Tyner” selected the then young “Azar Lawrence” to fill Coltrane’s chair on tenor sax. Later, he would also perform with “Miles Davis” at Carnegie Hall that produced the classic album, “Dark Magus: Live At ?Carnegie Hall”. Heavy company for the then young jazz saxophonist from Los Angeles.
One of the greatest performances of “John Coltrane’s musical career was the album he recorded with perhaps the finest balladeers of all time, “Johnny Hartman”. Hartman’s music was featured on the “Clint Eastwood” directed and produced movie soundtrack, “The Bridges of Madison County”. Hartman’s velvet vocal tone, according to one music critic, “defied explanation” as to its beauty, reached a vast new audience long after his death. The “Coltrane” and “Hartman” musical collaboration produced the 1963 venerable album, “John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman”. The album became an instant jazz classic, and the renditions of “Lush Life”, “My One and Only Love”, and “They Say It’s Wonderful” are considered definitive artistic works.
Joining Azar Lawrence and his Quartet on December 9 in Concert will be “James Love” who many consider the “Johnny Hartman” of today. Love’s velvet smooth baritone voice is reminiscent of Johnny Hartman in a host of ways. In 2007, “The Azar Lawrence Quartet” with Azar on tenor and alto sax along with Love recorded live at the “Jazz Bakery” in Culver City, California, “The Azar Lawrence Quartet and James Love” Celebrate the “Legacy, Music and Songs of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman”.
“Lawrence and Love” will again perform the classic duets in concert December 9 at the Mobile Convention Center made famous with the 1963 album duet of “John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman” that’ll include “Lush Life”, “My One and Only Love”, “They Say It’s Wonderful”, and “For All We Know”, among others.
Beyond the Coltrane songbook, Azar is one of the most prolific figures in jazz today. Three recent albums, Mystic Journey (2010), Prayer For My Ancestors (2009) and Speak The Word Revelations (2008) show his prowess as one of jazz music’s leading multi- saxophonists performers albeit under the heady influence of ‘Trane.
Comprising ” the Azar Lawrence Quartet” are some of the best jazz musicians performing today. At the acoustic piano will be Benito Gonzalez. Originally from Venezuela, Gonzalez has performed with Kenny Garrett, Christian McBride and Pharoah Sanders. On the acoustic bass will be Easiet Easiet who has shared the bandstand and recorded with Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson and Cedar Walton. On drums will be Ronnie Burrage. Burrage has performed with some of the leading jazz ensembles around including McCoy Tyner, Gary Bartz, Bradford Marsalis, Marcus Miller, Wallace Roney and Archie Shepp among others. Additionally, Burrage who graduated from the acclaimed jazz program at North Texas State and when not touring teaches at the Philadelphia University of Arts and is an adjunct professor at Pennsylvania State University while teaching at the “New School University” in New York.
Showtime for the Azar Lawrence Quartet and Special Guest vocalist James Love is at 8 PM. All seating in the intimate ‘Jazz on the Bay’ Room at the Mobile Convention Center will be general admission. Tickets are $20 (plus applicable charges and fees) and available at all the usual Ticketmaster locations. Or, online at Ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000. Tickets will also be available at the Mobile Civic Center Box Office, (251) 208-7906 (Hours: M-F- 9am-5pm). Students discount tickets with ID are $15 (plus applicable charges and fees).
The concert is produced by ‘Ron Bookman Presents’ in association with Clarion Jazz.