All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

567

Azar Lawrence: Prayer For My Ancestors

Chuck Koton By

Sign in to view read count
Azar Lawrence is a man on a mission. His task: to express beautiful, healing music.

At a young age, Lawrence was already touring and recording with jazz legends like Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner and Miles Davis. Then, after recording several successful albums, including Bridge into a New Age (Prestige 1974) and Summer Solstice (Prestige 1975), decades inexplicably passed before he would lead another studio session. Lawrence still played and recorded with a wide array of great artists like Stanley Turrentine, Woody Shaw, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Marvin Gaye. However, he didn't take his own bands into the recording studio.

Thankfully, Azar Lawrence is back and blowing his tenor and soprano saxophones

Prayer for My Ancestors, on the relatively new Furthermore Recordings label, is a collaborative labor of love made with the help of many friends, both old and new. The quartet consists of Los Angeles piano great, Nate Morgan, Henry "the Skipper" Franklin on bass, an old friend from their years in Horace Tapscott's Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, and former colleague in McCoy Tyner's band of the mid-70s, and Alphonse Mouzon on drums.

Lawrence's opener, "Open Sesame," begins with his tenor sax blowing a solemn incantation, as if summoning the eternal spirits to join him in joyous musical celebration. Then, Mouzon's shimmering cymbals and crashing drums and Morgan's palpitating piano enter the ceremony. Suddenly, the band takes off on an up-tempo journey to a magical place.

On another original, "Thokole," native Senegalese musicians Ibrahim Ba (vocals, guitar), kora (21-string lute) master Amadu Fall and the band create a gentle groove that conjures visions of majestic ibex and impala roaming the savannah. Enter Lawrence, who then breathes mystical magic from his soprano sax on this serene journey to the Motherland.

On the title tune, the rhythm section builds slowly rising waves of aural beauty, particularly Franklin's bowed bass, that washes over like the mighty falls of Victoria. Lawrence, on tenor, then pours forth a profoundly soulful expression of gratitude to the land and the people of Mother Africa.

Morgan's "Swinging in Exile" is a powerful, rhythmic, hard-bop tune that burns hot as North Africa's sirocco winds. Guest Roy McCurdy's relentless drums and Morgan's roiling piano runs propel the band to a frenzy. Meanwhile, Lawrence blows with an urgency and insistence that commands attention to his swinging message.

The always eloquent and insightful reed master John Stoddart was once quoted as saying, with great enthusiasm, that saxophonist Bill Evans (saxophone) was "playin' a lot of shit." Well, it's clear from one listen to this CD that Azar Lawrence is also "blowin' a lot of shit." Whether playing a languid ballad or a hard boppin' blues, Lawrence pours every ounce of his body and soul into the music.

With all the sadness and loss the jazz community experiences, it is a medicinal injection of peace and joy to hear Azar Lawrence burning it up again.


Track Listing: Open Sesame; Under Tanzanian Skies; Thokole; Prayer For My Ancestors; The Baker's Daughter; Swinging in Exile; Ode To Pharoah; Linda G.

Personnel: Azar Lawrence: tenor and soprano saxophones; Nate Morgan: piano; Henry "the Skipper" Franklin: bass; Alphonse Mouzon: drums; Ibrahim Ba: vocals,guitar; Amadu Fall: Kora; Nolan Shaheed: trumpet; Tony Dumas: bass; Roy McCurdy: drums.

Title: Prayer For My Ancestors | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Furthermore Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Northern Migrations CD/LP/Track Review
Northern Migrations
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Egregore CD/LP/Track Review
Egregore
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Lifelike CD/LP/Track Review
Lifelike
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Whatever Possessed Me CD/LP/Track Review
Whatever Possessed Me
by Don Phipps
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Live At The Fillmore East 1968 CD/LP/Track Review
Live At The Fillmore East 1968
by Doug Collette
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 21, 2018
Read "You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!" CD/LP/Track Review You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!
by Jerome Wilson
Published: February 18, 2018
Read "One Night in Indy" CD/LP/Track Review One Night in Indy
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 15, 2018
Read "The Imperfect Sea" CD/LP/Track Review The Imperfect Sea
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "Twio" CD/LP/Track Review Twio
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 9, 2018
Read "Songbook" CD/LP/Track Review Songbook
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 4, 2017
Read "Journey to a New World" CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018