Kirk Silsbee (Downbeat) Review, April 2012
Salt Lake City drummer Jay Lawrence joined some of the most esteemed West Coast jazz players at Andy Waterman’s venerated Umbrella studios and excelled among the Los Angeles jazz elite. He presented them with new material and produced an album so swinging and seasoned it sounds as though it could have been played by a working band at the end of a long tour.
His road to drum mastery differed from most jazz drummers. Lawrence had his union card at age 15. He studied with renowned drummers Gerry Genuario and Rich Havens, cutting his teeth on the Reno, Tahoe and Vegas show circuit. Reading, ensemble phrasing, and following a conductor are just a few of the skills he sharpened. They needed a percussionist on those jobs, so he played mallets, timpani, and hand percussion. Between the dinner and cocktail shows, he studied scores by writers like Nelson Riddle, Billy Byers and Peter Matz, learning theory, orchestration and chord-voicings. "That was a valuable education,” Lawrence says.
Formulating the concept of this recording, Lawrence states, “I wanted to choose my favorite, musically compatible players; Tamir, Bob and John were on the top of my list. When I found that they were available and amenable, I was thrilled."
Lawrence is an interactive drummer. He provides the pulse and anchors the rhythm section as expected, but Tamir observes: "Jay listens to every single note, so it’s a real four-way conversation." Sheppard adds: “Jay knows the language, but his playing is fresh. I was glad to be able to work with a new great drummer. This was a real treat!"
Perhaps the greatest measure of Lawrence’s mastery can be discerned in the way the sessions came together: The synergy and magic was apparent from the very first take, and eight takes were racked up on the first day.
A longtime vibraphonist, Lawrence is also an accomplished writer. The strength and inherent musicality of his compositions gave arranger Hendelman a lot to work with. “Jay’s writing,” Tamir notes, “takes different directions. He’s got a real lyrical quality and harmonic sophistication that feels natural.” “His tunes,” Sheppard offers, “are extremely melodic; they have a real mood. He wrote some beautiful stuff that was very challenging.” When Sheppard was told that his playing on the album is extremely lyrical, he added: "Jay really understands harmony. When the writing’s good, it’s easy to play that way.”
Jay Lawrence BIO
musician Jay Lawrence has enjoyed a diverse career as a
performing and recording artist. Lawrence is a distinguished drummer,
ethnic and orchestral percussionist, composer and arranger, educator,
clinician, adjudicator, band leader, contractor and author. Versatile
and creative, Lawrence’s vast professional experience began when he
joined The Musicians Union (A. F. of M.) at the age of fifteen, and
was immediately in demand working as a drummer and percussionist for
myriad celebrity shows in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. Jay
plays/endorses Vic Firth sticks, mallets and brushes, DW drums,
Bosphorus and Zildjian cymbals, Remo drumheads, Musser vibraphones,
Roland electronics, and LP percussion. He has been an Assistant
Professor of Music at the University of Utah since 1988 and is the
Director of Jazz Combos, Arranging and Composition at Brigham Young
University (since 1996). He is also an adjunct jazz faculty member at
Snow College, BYU Idaho, and Utah Valley University.
Lawrence has performed in concert with many celebrities, including,
The 5th Dimension, Paul Anka, Vikki Carr, Cher, Roy Clark, The
Coasters, Natalie Cole, Vic Damone, Sammy Davis Jr., The Drifters,
Arthur Duncan, Barbara Eden, Michael Feinstein, Andy Gibb, Englebert
Humperdink, Jack Jones, Tom Jones, Ben E. King, Gladys Knight, Rich
Little, Loretta Lynn, Ann Margret, Maureen McGovern, Shirley
MacLaine, Liza Minelli, The Moody Blues, Anthony Newley, Donny Osmond,
Lou Rawls, Della Reese, Debbie Reynolds, Charlie Rich, Linda Ronstadt,
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Neil Sedaka, Frank Jr. and Nancy
Sinatra, Red Skelton, The Smothers Brothers, Bobby Vinton, Dionne
Warwick, Raquel Welch, Mary Wilson, and others.
He has also played for many productions and musicals, including, the
Sponsors Party and African Nations Athletes Party at the 2002 Winter
Olympics, High School Musical, Showboat, Singin’ in the Rain, City of
Angels, West Side Story, Annie Get Your Gun, Fiddler on the Roof,
Hello Dolly, Oklahoma, Bye-Bye Birdie, Hair Spray, Anything Goes,
Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, Music Man, The Sound of Music,
Phantom of the Opera, 42nd Street, and Les Miserables.
Lawrence has also performed with many jazz artists, including Shelly
Berg, Jimmy Bruno, Randy Brecker, Brian Bromberg, Kenny Burrell, Cyrus
Chestnut, Pete Christlieb, Richie Cole, Dee Daniels, Eddie Daniels,
Brandon Fields, Carl Fontana, David Friedman, Al Grey, Benny Green,
Don Grolnick, Wycliffe Gordon, Ellis Hall, Roy Hargrove, Milt Jackson,
Hank Jones, Carol Kaye, Mark Levine, The Lionel Hampton Rhythm
section, Bill Mays, Bob McChesney, Darmon Meader and the New York
Voices, Don Menza, James Moody, Andy Narrell, Nicholas Payton, Art
Pepper, John Pizzarelli, Jeff Richman, Arturo Sandoval, Tom Scott,
Bobby Shew, Diane Schuur, Byron Stripling, Tierney Sutton, Clark
Terry, Stanley Turrentine, Bill Watrous, Rodney Whitaker, Ben Wolfe,
and Phil Woods. Jay has toured throughout the U.S.A., Canada, Europe,
the South Pacific and the Caribbean with luminaries such as Chris
LeDoux, James Moody, Liberace, Enoch Train, and The Osmonds. Lawrence
has recorded many award-winning albums including those with Bob
Mintzer, Andy Martin, Joey DeFrancesco, Mike Stern, Zoro, Chuck
Findley, and others. The Jay Lawrence trio’s Thermal Strut on OA2
Records, featured Tamir Hendelman and Lynn Seaton and received
critical acclaim in Percussive Notes, Jazz Times and other magazines.
Lawrence has recorded film scores and trailers for the following
motion pictures: 101 Dalmatians, Army of Darkness, Double Impact,
Eulogy, Flubber, Frank and Jessie, Gettysburg, Hercules, Home Alone 3,
Huck Finn, Indian in the Cupboard, Jumanji, Man in the Iron Mask,
Mighty Ducks 2, Mi Familia, Nightmare on Elm Street- Part VII, The
Sandlot, Serial Mom, Stargate, Starship Troopers, Surviving Picasso,
The Swan Princess, Tales From the Hood, The Three Ninjas Kick Back,
U-571, Under the Moon, and When You Wish Upon A Star.
Lawrence’s television credits include music for ESPN, American Gothic,
Crossroads (NBC), German Sports IDs, Hart to Hart, The Merv Griffin
Show from Caesar’s Palace, Mrs. America Pageant, the HBO taping of
Moulin Rouge, Orange Bowl halftime show, Ridin’ for a Fall (CMT
video), Small Vices (A&E), Music and the Spoken Word with The Mormon
Tabernacle Choir, Tenth Kingdom (mini-series), Warner Brothers
promotional campaign, and Xena, The Warrior Princess series.
Lawrence has both adjudicated and performed as a clinician at the
Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, the Utah Chapter of the Percussive Arts
Society (adjudicating the Statewide drum set competition for 24 years
straight,) The Gene Harris Jazz Festival, Heritage Festivals in Las
Vegas, Fidelity’s Park City Jazz Festival, the UMEA Conference, and
The Juilliard Jazz Faculty Goes to the Mountains. Lawrence has
received numerous awards, including, The Best Drummer In Utah award
(The Private Eye Weekly-Annual Music Poll), Utah’s Favorite Jazz
Drummer (Space Agency Peer Poll), Best Drummer—Stan Kenton Scholarship
Winner (Sacramento Jazz Festival), and is a KUER Voice of Jazz and the
2009 Utah Arts Council Commissioned Composer grant recipient.
Lawrence has served as President of the Salt Lake City Jazz Society
and as Chief Executive Officer of Jazz Arts of the Mountain West. Jay
is also a founding director of the GAM Foundation’s Jazz at the
Sheraton/Capitol concert series. His drum method,
"The Drummers Workbook", is now being used in several Universities
across the nation, and has been endorsed by artists such as Alex
Acuna, Carl Allen, and Terreon Gully.
Jay's new recording "Sweet Lime" with Bob Sheppard, Tamir Hendelman
and John Clayton will be released in April 2012 on Jazz Hang Records.
Jay is proud to be Linda’s husband, father of six children and
grandfather of twelve wonderful grandchildren.
For more information about Jay Lawrence, visit his Website:
Check out this great review for Jay's newest album!
"What a creative arrangement-- I love it! My compliments to all the guys-- great playing. I'm honored."
(With reference to Señor Mouse, a track on Sweet Lime)
User Review from CD Baby
Sweet Lime has the spark and the juice and the taste ....
Simply one of the best sounding, best played, best organized, nicest, hottest, coolest jazz albums I've heard. Tamir and Jay also made 'Thermal Strut' six years ago. I have just discovered both albums, I'm listening to them right now and constantly. I don't know if the players felt it was an extraordinary session, or just their ordinary level of
excellence, but 'Sweet Lime' sounds like a great session. I am in love with it, hope you enjoy it too.