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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - New Sky
Artist - Azar Lawrence

For those unaware, for those who’ve survived the Covid-19 pandemic, the last two years have been transformative. If we’re fortunate, we have assessed our losses, which can range from personal loved ones, health, and financial securities as well as our gains, which can include a renewed sense of purpose, deeper appreciation for life, and a keen acknowledgment of self-resilience and spirituality.

Veteran tenor and soprano saxophonist and composer, Azar Lawrence taps into the latter with his new album, New Sky, a defiantly optimistic musical soundtrack – co-produced by him, James Saez and Tracy Hannah – that focuses on the benefits that we’ve received since the pandemic began.

With an illustrious career that stretches more than half a century, Lawrence has performed with numerous jazz titans that include pianists Horace Tapscott and McCoy Tyner; trumpeters Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, and Woody Shaw; percussionist James Mtume; and drummers Elvin Jones and Billy Higgins.

The Los Angeles-born Lawrence, however, has never been confined by conventional genre categories. His instrumental and songwriting work with iconic soul singers, Chuck Jackson, Roberta Flack, Marvin Gaye, and Phyllis Hyman; and the R&B/jazz juggernaut ensemble, Earth, Wind & Fire is just as indelible.

The culminating experiences from working with those artists as well as mapping out his impressive discography as a leader, particularly his fiery spiritual jazz LPs for Prestige Records in the 1970s – Bridge into the New Age (1974), Summer Solstice (1975), and People Moving (1976) – all inform what Lawrence brings to the table on New Sky.

All of my skills that have been gathered throughout my career has been a journey, and all of those energies that have been acquired throughout that journey are coming together in a focused manner, Lawrence says. This new album expresses that.

1. All In Love
2. Peace and Harmony
3. New Sky
4. Ain’t Now Doubt About It
5. Just Because of You
6. From The Point of Love
7. Birds Are Singing
8. I Really Love You
9. Let It Go
10. Revelation

This beautifully orchestrated, translucent even, new album opens on Lawrence’s coiling soprano saxophone rising triumphantly within the majestical All In Love and the funky, samba-inflected ebb and flow of Peace and Harmony and then backs those up with the harmoniously euphoric, Brazilian-flavored title track New Sky (which features Lynne Fiddmont on vocals), the percolating Ain’t Now Doubt About It (featuring Calesha “Bre-Z” Murray) and then comes Lawrence playing respect to the Creator, All-Mighty, on the beautiful Just Because of You (featuring vocalist Oren Waters of the legendary The Waters singing group).

First recorded on his Summer Solstice album, next up is one of my own personal favorites, his swirling melodies reworking of the samba-imbibed From The Point of Love which are in turn followed by the festive waltz Birds Are Singing, then comes the energetic I Really Love You, the album rounding out on the groove-laden Let It Go, coming to a close on another refurbished older composition, this time Revelation (from his 2009 album, Speak the Word, and which here features a powerful Tyner-esque piano solo from critically acclaimed, South African-born pianist Nduduzo Makhathini and celestial harp accompaniment from Destiny Muhammad).

Joining Lawrence on New Sky is an illustrious cast of musicians that consists of pianists and keyboardists John Beasley and Nduduzo Makhathini; bassist Sekou Bunch; drummer Tony Austin; percussionist Munyungo Jackson; singers Calesha “Bre-Z” Murray, Oren Waters, and Lynne Fiddmont; harpist Destiny Muhammad; and guitarists James Saez, Greg Poree and Gregory “GMOE” Moore.

Together, they aim to usher in a new post-pandemic dawn, filled with universal love and global humanity.

Lawrence composed and recorded most of the music on New Sky during the beginning of October 2020. As someone who practices Egyptian Ankh mediation, and breathing mediation techniques taught by Michael Beckwith’s Agape International Spiritual Center, he used the first year of the pandemic to listen to his inner voice for musical inspiration.

There was the lack of the outer movement – having to sustain oneself and staying out of the limelight, Lawrence says of that period. It gave us a lot of time to focus our energies, go within, and listen to the inner call. Now, a new age is taking hold with some of the new ideas.

Official Purchase Link

Official Website

Azar Lawrence @ Facebook

Azar Lawrence @ Twitter

Azar Lawrence @ Instagram

Azar Lawrence - From The Point of Love [Official Audio]

LA Bossa - Elementals by Azar Lawrence [2018]