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Arnie Lawrence


Arnie Lawrence

Arnie Lawrence was a truly giving person, and I’m not just saying that because that’s the sort of thing you say about someone when he passes on. When I first came to New York in 1988, Arnie was always making opportunities for young musicians to play, and I got to play with him then. He would find a restaurant or bar and set up a gig there, and maybe it would pay almost nothing, but he’d be there with us, playing his heart out, giving us our first opportunities to play jazz for a public in New York City. He was a player, but he was also a teacher, and the way he taught was directly through the music, by playing with you. And he taught with love. There were a lot of other places he could have been on a lot of those Sunday afternoons that he spent with us, playing the brunch gig to an apathetic handful of people.

Arnie was a true jazz musician. He had a deep, husky sound on his alto, sat way back in the back of his beat with his phrases and always had a feeling of the blues in whatever he played. But he was completely open to any musical experience; he would bring his horn and his mysterious hipster vibe along just about anywhere, like when he would play a set with the pioneering jam band Blues Traveler, whose members included some of his students.

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