By Joshua Myers | Published May 2022
New Sky, by veteran tenor and soprano saxophonist and composer Azar Lawrence, is what Toni Morrison called a “rememory.” That is, it’s a reanimation of something we remember but can now fully experience again. The album recalls what some label “spiritual jazz” (the eight-minute “Revelation” shines here), but with its vocal-forward tracks, there are also nods to the eras of soul, R&B and even Latin American influences.
Punctuated by a vibrant ensemble — pianists/keyboardists John Beasley and Nduduzo Makhathini, bassist Sekou Bunch, drummer Tony Austin, percussionist Munyungo Jackson, harpist Destiny Muhammad, singers Calesha “Bre-Z” Murray, Oren Waters and Lynne Fiddmont, and guitarists James Saez, Greg Poree and Gregory “GMOE” Moore — Lawrence’s smooth playing reminds us of his long career working across diverse styles. With titles like “All In Love” and “Just Because Of You,” New Sky is billed as a celebration of those things even a pandemic could not destroy. What survives is a wonderful collection of moments we can hold on to. Some memories remembered, some that we hope will live again.
New Sky: All In Love; Peace And Harmony; New Sky; Ain’t No Doubt About It; Just Because Of You; Birds Are Singing; I Really Love You; Let It Go; Revelation. (51:13)
Personnel: Azar Lawrence, saxophone; Nduduzo Makhathini, John Beasley, piano, keyboards; Sekou Bunch, bass; Tony Austin, drums; Munyungo Jackson, percussion; Calesha “Bre-Z” Murray, Oren Waters, vocals; Destiny Muhammad, harp; James Saez, Greg Poree, Gregory “GMOE” Moore, guitar.
Ordering Info: trazarrecords.com