Interviews About the Art of Jazz with Arnie Lawrence By Jeffrey M. Green
You don’t choose the music. The music chooses you. That’s how it is. Once the music chooses you, you are a musician for life.
The Voices of Arnie Lawrence
In his new book titled Problematic Guru, Jeffrey Green brings the story of The Great Arnie Lawrence, as many musicians and practically everyone who got the chance to meet Arnie, Green learned from him about being a musician.
Together they began telling Arnie’s story, not as an “autobiography”, this book is not the regular systematically and chronologically life of another Jazz legend of Lawrence’s generation, it’s a shared collaborative effort of both Arnie and Green’s speaking in two voices;
There is Arnie’s voice, as recorded in interviews, as well as short passages that he wrote till his sudden decline into terminal illness in the spring of 2005. For Arnie, this was a chance to express his gratitude to the great musicians who taught him and helped him on his way and to pass on his teaching.
In Green’s voice, this was an opportunity to express some of his gratitude to Arnie for his generosity as a teacher, and to explore some of what Green feels and thinks about music and the life of a musician.
As in a jazz performance, the voices are meant both to blend in dialog and to remain separate as solos.
In retrospect, it became Lawrence’s testament.
Arnie Lawrence (1938, Brooklyn – 2005, Jerusalem)
Arnie Lawrence was a brilliant, versatile, and powerful alto saxophone player and was highly respected by his fellow musicians, with a rich career of performances and as a recording artist.
Performing at Birdland at age 17, working a double bill with John Coltrane playing with Charles Mingus, Thad Jones, Maynard Ferguson and Duke Pearson.
He can be heard on Chico Hamilton’s records, with the phenomenal trumpet players Clark Terry, Doc Severinsen, with fellow saxophonist James Moody and many other greats of his time.
Lawrence played on the pioneering Latin album, Cuban Roots, and with the rock band, Blood Sweat & Tears to name just a few of his credits. He had bands of his own, including Children of All Ages and Treasure Island, which produced highly regarded albums in the 1970s.
As a studio musician, he played in the Tonight Show Band, led by Doc Severinsen until the show moved to Los Angeles. He also toured with Liza Minelli for more than a year.
In 1986, he stopped recording and touring and was among the founders of the prestigious jazz college The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, taking more pride in the achievements of his many students than he did in his own among the program’s students were Roy Hargrove and Brad Mehldau and many of the leading voices of today’s jazz scene across the globe.
In the late 1990s, Arnie moved to Jerusalem Israel and established the International Center for Creative Music, where he was active both in fostering the talents of young Israeli musicians such as Avishai Choen, Omri Mor and Shauli Einav, and in using music to break down barriers between Israelis and Palestinians.
The book Problematic Guru can be found on Amazon.