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Azar Lawrence: The Seeker

Jazz fans of a certain age who remember McCoy Tyner’s great 1973 album Enlightenment may have wondered what became of Azar Lawrence. He dropped off jazz radar for most of three decades, but he is back. The Seeker is his fifth record since 2007. He also plays in drummer-composer Franklin Kiermyer’s quartet on Further.

Lawrence has been compared to John Coltrane his whole working life, but he is not a replica. He plays Coltrane’s instruments but not his licks and patterns. Even Lawrence’s sound is a variant. On soprano saxophone he is somewhat more rounded, and has slightly more vibrato on tenor. What he shares with Coltrane is an intensity of passion that overwhelms everything in its path.

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