save the date - mother's day - may 12th, 2019
Some time after John Coltrane’s death his pianist, McCoy Tyner, wanted another saxophonist to play with. Azar Lawrence was the man Tyner picked, and his powerful new album reminds us why…You’ll be returning to this excellent disc [Elementals] as often as saxophonists return to John Coltrane.” Chris Pearson, The Sunday Times (London) April 20, 2018.
Azar was a young music prodigy, lovingly tutored by his mother, who taught music and led their church choir. At age 5, he played violin in the Los Angeles Junior Symphony, then viola, but his ears were turned to the saxophone at age 13. Azar spent his teen years immersed in jazz at the home of his best friend, none other than the late Reggie Golson, son of the great composer/arranger/saxophonist, Bennie Golson. From then on it was jazz, jazz and more jazz!
Azar began his jazz career at the renowned Dorsey High School Jazz Workshop. After high school he played in Horace Tapscott's Pan Afrikan Arkestra, and played weekly with George Cables, Candy Finch, Larry Gales and Woody Shaw in Los Angeles at local club, L.B. West on 54th St. Before long, he performed with the Ike & Tina Turner band, the Watts 103rd Street Band and War. The 19 y.o. musical genius – he’d blush at the description – then joined John Coltrane drummer, Elvin Jones for 3 ½ years.
McCoy Tyner then invited Lawrence to join his quartet, an alchemy that lasted for 5 ½ exuberant years. Why? As the great McCoy said: “I think you [Azar] feel the same way about the music that John [Coltrane] did.” Azar performed on arguably Tyner’s best albums, Enlightenment, Atlantis, and Sama Layuca. During his tenure with Tyner, Azar also recorded with Miles Davis on the album Dark Magus at the famed Carnegie Hall. Upon leaving Tyner, Azar recorded his own projects, including the recently reissued Bridge Into The New Age (1974), then Summer Solstice, (1975), and People Moving (1976).
Azar went on to record/write for luminaries such as Freddie Hubbard, Busta Rhymes, Roberta Flack, and Phyllis Hyman. His sensational collaborations of the period included writing and performing on Earth Wind & Fire’s highly acclaimed platinum album, Powerlight, and on Marvin Gaye’s Grammy award winning, Hear My Dear.
In the early 2000s, Azar surged back onto the jazz scene and continues to roar, electrifying audiences with outstanding original compositions inspired by his intense spiritual feelings, as well as songs from the Coltrane songbook: The Legacy and Music of John Coltrane, 2007, Speak The Word Revelations, 2008, Prayer For My Ancestors, 2009, Mystic Journey, 2010, and Grammy-nominated, The Seeker, Live At The Jazz Standard, 2014, which featured Azar’s own “Lost Tribes of Lemuria,” and McCoy Tyner’s signature, "Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit.”
Azar’s 2018 album, Elementals, hit #2 on the Jazz Weekly charts. Chris May wrote: “Azar Lawrence sounds more like John Coltrane than John Coltrane ever did. Well, almost…. but it has not been a cynical pose designed to maximize Lawrence's commercial appeal.” (All About Jazz, April 18, 2018.) Concord reissued the highly acclaimed Bridge Into The New Age in November of 2017.
Azar’s band, The Azar Lawrence Experience (TALE) appears with as many as eight musicians and sizzles to the sounds of these new releases. In addition to various festival appearances in Europe, Africa and Asia, Azar is a regular at Dizzy's Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Jazz Standard in NYC, and at Blues Alley in Washington, DC. The jazz world eagerly awaits Concord’s vinyl reissue of Azar's stunning 1976 album, Summer Solstice. TALE dedicates itself to sharing a lifetime of Azar's music, art and spirituality with global audiences.
WINDYS’ luxurious vocals move effortlessly from Jazz to Pop, to R&B and Gospel. It’s easy to see why she is one of the most sought after singers around the globe.
WINDY has been well received throughout ASIA, including Tokyo, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Shanghai, Beijing, Macau and Thailand. She most recently headlined the Dakar-Goree Jazz festival in Senegal.
WINDY has been featured extensively on tour with the highest grossing balladeer in the world, JULIO IGLESIAS. She has traveled the world many times over with one of the most imitated, respected and endearing singer/songwriter/musician of the 21st century, STEVIE WONDER. In addition, she stopped the show night after night while performing the steamy duet “We’re Not Making Love Anymore” with one of the most soulful Rock turned R&B singer ever, MICHAEL BOLTON. It stands to reason why the unique vocal stylings of WINDY BARNES is recognized all over the world whether on film, television, radio, CD, DVD, and now digital downloads.
NILS, one of contemporary Jazz’ most well known and revered musicians, who for nearly 20 years as a solo artist has been a force to be reckoned with, achieving major accolades along the way, most notably from Billboard, scoring the esteemed charts song of the decade, 2000-2010 (“Pacific Coast Highway”), song of the year, 2011 (“Jump Start”) and over 15 top 20 radio hits.Nils has headlined some of the largest festivals and clubs across the US and Europe throughout his stellar career, sharing the stage as well as recording with many titans of the industry including George Benson, Dave Koz, Chante Moore, Rick Braun, Nathan East, The Temptations, and countless others.Born and raised in Munich, Nils (pronounced Neels) picked up his first guitar as a teenager. While his first inclinations were to follow the lead of his idols Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, it wasn’t until he was introduced to funk music that he was hooked; he spent “endless nights” learning and copying rhythm players like Nile Rogers, Al McKay and Paul Jackson, Jr. He was also a huge jazzfusion fan, inspired by The Yellow Jackets, Jeff Lorber Fusion and Larry Carlton.In 2014, nine years after his massive radio single “Pacific Coast Highway” established him as one of contemporary jazz’ top artists and producers, Nils took an exciting look back on a decade of non-stop hit-making with the release of the compilation Jazz Gems: The Best of Nils. The album, which takes stock of his extraordinary career, included only one new track – giving the prolific guitarist and composer extra time to pen his most explosive and infectious tunes ever for his latest release “Alley Cat” (2015). In addition to capturing a wide range of emotions on his guitar, the 12 tracks showcase, more than ever before, Nils’ masterful skills as a producer and inventive sonic architect.In 2018 he released his 9thsolo album, Play.
Walk into the studio of most famous guitarists and you’ll feel like you’re at Guitar Center, spotting a massive collection of axes, each of which offers the right sound for their latest projects. Nils has gleefully defied that collector stereotype, scoring hit after contemporary urban jazz radio hit by modulating the sound of a single, trusty musical companion – the Custom Valley Arts guitar he bought shortly after moving to Los Angeles from his native Munich in the mid-80’s. On his latest BAJA/TSR album Play, he celebrates yet another opportunity to do what he does best on that instrument, with longtime musical friends who happen to be among the genre’s most renowned artists. “This album is all about the love I have for playing my instrument and the love I felt from all the wonderful friends who stepped up when I reached out to them and helped me take this new music to the next level,” Nils says. “The wonderful result is that we put together a bigger band with a lot more horns than ever before, and a collection that stylistically allowed me to stretch out into different areas. In the spirit of capturing the meaning behind the album title, I wanted to show a richer spectrum of what I can do musically and have a lot of fun playing.” With Play, Nils complements his longtime core band of Clydene Jackson (keyboards, vocals), percussionist Oliver C. Brown and bassist Darryl Williams with drummers Gorden Campbell, Tony Moore and Eric Valentine, pianists Gail Jhonson and Mitchel Forman, bassist Roberto Vally, keyboardists Philippe Saisse and Nate Harasim and saxophonists Steve Cole (solo), Brandon Willis (solo), Charley Langer (horn section) and Mike Parlett (horn section). Nils continues to cultivate an incredible creative chemistry with his pal and neighbor Johnny Britt, who, the guitarist says, “sings and plays keyboards and horns, three things I don’t do!” Britt infuses Play with his multitude of talents, from playing keys on the sparkling funk opener “Coast To Coast” and Rhodes, trumpet swells and a trumpet solo on the sensual, old school soul ballad “Sway” to adding a dynamic vocal scat to the jamming, high octane first single “Straight Down the Line” and vocals (with Jackson) on a passionate tribute to George Michael’s “Careless Whisper.” Britt also brings his sizzling horn textures (via the J-Jam Horns) to a total of six tracks, including “Coast To Coast,” the infectious and danceable, gospel influenced anthem “We Got Love,” and the fiery, top down party funk explosion “California”. Nils is the first to admit that he sometimes overstocks albums like his most recent projectAlley Cat(2015) with so many in the pocket, potential airplay hits that some are inevitably overlooked; “Two of a Kind” and the title track were both Billboard Top 20 airplay hits from that recording. For Play, he took a more streamlined compositional approach, balancing upbeat “trademark” radio ready gems with fresh stylistic excursions that find Nils exploring a deeper personal artistry and the more colorful sonic possibilities of his axe. To that end, “Goldfinger” is not the James Bond theme, but a stripped down, laid back ballad featuring the interaction of uniquely modulated rhythm and lead guitar lines. He named the track after the Bogner Goldfinger amp he uses for the lead (he used a Fender amp for the rhythm part). Another colorful departure is the trippy, mystical closer “Fire of My Heart,” whichincludes a symphonic, new agey intro, a reverb melody section, offbeat machine generated vocals and a build towards an exuberant gospel choir crescendo.On Play, I really feel that I am able to communicate the pure joy of me playing guitar. As always, I only stopped the recording process when the sound was up where it needed to be, with all solid and engaging material brought to life by these great musicians who blessed me with their time and talents.”
Jazz In Pink is the world-renowned, all-female, all Star band based in Los Angeles, CA. In just six years, Jazz In Pink has emerged as one of the world's most prominent and popular all-female, ensembles. They enjoy a growing social media presence on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. Jazz In Pink delivers a mixed genre which is primarily Jazz with soul, R&B, symphonic, rock and hip hop undertones. The band's core members are Gail Jhonson, Althea René, Maria Antoinette, and Karen Briggs. Since 2008, Jazz In Pink has not only performed throughout the country and around the world, but has worked to fill learning, social, and cultural gaps through community outreaches and events. The talented band consistently captivates audiences. Collectively and individually, members have performed along with Alex Bugnon; Norman Brown; Eric Bent; Bobby Womack; Sheila E; Peabo Bryson; David Benoit; Kirk Franklin; Donnie McClurkin; Yolanda Adams; The Virginia Symphony; Jonathan Butler; George Duke; Stanley Clarke; Wu Tang Clan; Everett Harp; Brenda Russell; Patti Austin; The Time and Yanni.Their CD, 1st Collection, was released in 2014. It features Gail Jhonson, Karen Briggs, Althea Rene, Robin Bramlett, Cindy Bradley and many other talented, eclectic musicians.