The Jazzcat

Azar Lawrence at the Jazz Bakery with The Legacy, Music and Songs of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

by on Aug.01, 2007, under News


A plethora of notes streaming from a universal consciousness

down through the body and out to the souls of those who thirst for the power of

the music. Azar blowin’ Trane is definitely one of “My Favorite Things”. There

are many attempts to pay homage to masters that have musically inhabited the

earth before us. Many are quite honorable, some remain to be attempts, but few

create a sound that can almost transport you to a time and place where the

creation originated.


Tonight is a tribute to the energies and blessings that John

Coltrane has and continues to bestow upon us through the gifts that he has left

behind. The sound is very familiar and the temporary state of mental and

spiritual bliss that the music delivers is healing and a true indication of the

rich spiritual source that Trane had directly tapped into. Of course there will

never be another Trane but, Azar is very proficient in his technical ability to

capture many of the subtle nuances of the masterpieces that you and I are so

familiar with.


Trane only recorded with one singer and that was the great

Johnny Hartman. The way he romanced a ballad with the lush reality of the smoky

lyric is absolutely marvelous. Modern day balladeer James Love and I spoke

earlier this month when he performed over where I host the weekly jazz

performances at the LAX Westin. He heard about the Coltrane/Hartman project and

since he loves and sings Johnny Hartman tunes, this could be the perfect

opportunity for something very special. Leonard Herring the gentleman

behind the Clarion Jazz label, promoter and manager of a few of Los Angeles’ finer horn

players. He came out to watch James perform and knew that he had found the

missing ingredient to make the Coltrane-Hartman project take flight.


As you know, the rhythm section for John Coltrane of Elvin

Jones, Jimmy Garrison and McCoy Tyner has laid down a phenomenal foundation for

the music to ascend to the heavens. Azar’s rhythm includes Fritz Wise on drums,

Jeffery Littleton on bass and Nate Morgan on piano. If you have not heard Nate

Morgan play then you are missing out on the extraordinary. His playing is just

incredible with such vast fluidity and richness in his runs. I am sure that if

McCoy were there, he would be nodding his head with the smile of approval

followed by a sudden urge to get to a piano and tighten up “his” chops. This is

not a race but, if it were, McCoy would be in the lead but, he would be using

his periferial vision and seeing Nate right there running strong!


These cats grew up on Trane and tonight they are riding on

the “A”. Leonard Herring Jr. gets up to the microphone and talks about when he

and the Trane first met and how much later he proceeded to come into contact

with Azar. He was the ‘Wise One” who decided to pursue the project of a

recreation on John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman music and in a “Moment’s notice”

there was “Acknowledgement”.





Whenever I hear the music of Coltrane I am mesmorized and

bathed by the beauty of the density that captures my spirit and helps me

contemplate life and communicate openly with the spirit that guides that life.

There is hardly ever a time that a recreation can bring about the same

intensity on the same scale. Although the time, spirits and purposes of the men

may differ, there are similarities and the sound is always a welcome and warm



Dr. James Love, as he was referred to, comes on the stage to

wet more than a few pairs of panties with “Autumn’s Serenade” and a lovely

version of one of his personal favorites from the Hartman Collection, “You are

to Beautiful’. As he left the stage he got a big hug from Leonard and I had to

go backstage to give him one as well so I guess the romanticism has an effect

on us all!  Hopefully this will be the

beginning of a beautiful blossoming project for more to enjoy. For now, keep

your eyes open for the next Lawrence-Love project!


LeRoy Downs

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