Azar Lawrence led a very musical childhood and began playing drums at the age of five and moved onto violin and piano under the direction of his mother Ima Lawrence. Ima, a gifted musician and teacher from whom Azar received his acute flair for all things music has shaped many successful musicians.
Azar began playing with the USC JR Orchestra at the age of five. He played violin until the age of 8. He performed vocals accompanied by his mother during elementary school where she taught sixth grade and music
At age eleven he began hearing a different musical voice. He was an accomplished pianist, violinist and vocalist in his own right at the time.
He thought it was time to learn viola. But something happened. Lonnie a long time friend of Mr. Lawrence, and of the family, who often brought his flute when he visited, came by for a swim, and brought his alto sax. Azar was not poolside but he had to see who was playing that cool sound. His father his biggest supporter and fan who had bought all of Azar’s instruments purchased him an alto sax, and Azar began taking instruction from Mr. Schumaker once a week. In high school Azar played with the Dorsey High Jazz Band, and played a jazz workshop with Herbert Baker, “one of the greatest pianist that ever lived and I feel blessed to have been in his presence.”
Azar played everyday with Herbert Baker until a tragic car accident took his teacher and mentor’s life, Azar’s senior year in high school. “That event made me reach deeper and I knew I had to carry on what I had learned.”
Drummer, Reggie Golson, introduced Azar to “the music”, and that’s when he began to get into the creation. Nightly he went to Reggie’s house. Reggie had a room full of records, and he would play them all, over time. Coltrane, Miles, Monk, Shorter. “Reggie prepared me. “
After high school at the age of 19, Azar played with Candy Finch, Larry Gales, and Woody Shaw at a regular gig at a club on 54th St. in Los Angeles.
Soon he would perform with Ike & Tina Turner, Watts 103rd St. band, and War. He then joined Elvin Jones for two years and after leaving Elvin, he joined McCoy Tyner’s group for five years and then back to Elvin for a year, and in the meantime recorded with Roberta Flack.