Azar Lawrence’s third solo album People Moving was released in 1976 on Prestige Records. The sensational jazz-funk project has been reissued courtesy of Craft Recordings and is available for stream or purchase now.
The album features Lawrence on tenor, alto, and soprano saxophone alongside a group of incredible musicians including Patrice Rushen on electric piano and vocals, Harvey Mason on drums, and Mtume on percussion. Dedicated to the great Charles Stepney, People Moving showcases Lawrence’s versatility as a saxophonist and composer, blending elements of funk, soul, and jazz into a cohesive and groovy musical experience.
To celebrate the release, Lawrence and his band–The Azar Lawrence Experience–will be performing the album in full at The Mint in Los Angeles on May 23. Tickets are on-sale here.
Having grown up in Los Angeles in the early 1960s, Lawrence grew up in a neighborhood where jazz greats such as Earl Palmer and Louis Jordan were near neighbors and he found a way into the wonders of jazz after befriending Reggie Golson, son of another legendary jazz saxophonist, Benny Golson.
“Reggie lived at the very, very tip of the Hollywood Hills, beyond The Monkees’ Davy Jones, and he had this amazing record collection,” Lawrence enthused, speaking of his early influences in a uDiscover Music interview from 2020.
“That was how I first became familiar with Miles Davis, Hank Mobley, John Coltrane and many more. Hearing [Coltrane’s] A Love Supreme was just a revalatory experience. Just the way the horns sounded…it felt like they were speaking to me personally.”
A graduate of Horace Tapscott’s Pan African People’s Arkestra, with whom he played as a teenager, Lawrence later recorded three albums in as many years for Bob Weinstock’s jazz imprint Prestige. It was while on tour in Europe with pianist McCoy Tyner, in 1974, that he was offered a chance to record as a leader by producer Orrin Keepnews. The owner of the Milestone label, Keepnews was in Montreux, Switzerland, to capture Tyner’s quartet at the lakeside town’s famous jazz festival.