Saxophonist Azar Lawrence's influential faculties and stylistic attack loom as significant contributions to the state of jazz, a genre that continually reinvents itself. He's played with jazz greats including McCoy Tyner and Miles Davis, amid stints with soul and pop icons. On Mystic Journey, Lawrence rekindles the John Coltrane connection, featuring Rashied Ali's presence and the band's rendition of Tyner's enduring "Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit."
Ali passed away several months after these sides were recorded in April, 2009; in turn, Lawrence dedicated the album to the drummer's music and memory. "Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit," is one of several euphoric pieces that surges this album into the upper echelon of 2010 releases.
Atop Ali's shifty Latin-rock backdrop, Lawrence, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, and alto saxophonist Gerald Hayes execute resonating choruses when reformulating the primary theme. And they strike a flawless balance between melody making and improvisation, while launching into an invigorating swing vamp after the bridge. "Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit" depicts one of many absorbing works evidenced on Mystic Journey.
Personnel: Azar Lawrence: tenor and soprano saxophone; Eddie Henderson: trumpet and flugelhorn; Gerald Hayes: alto saxophone; Benito Gonzalez: piano; Essiet Essiet: bass; Rashied Ali: drums.
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