About once a year, organist Dan Trudell travels to New Mexico to play jazz with his good friend Doug Lawrence. The two met in the late 1990s when Trudell was playing …
About once a year, organist Dan Trudell travels to New Mexico to play jazz with his good friend Doug Lawrence. The two met in the late 1990s when Trudell was playing with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra and Lawrence was brought in as a substitute musician. The two friends are performing together this year in Taos.
The Taos Jazz Bebop Society presents the Doug Lawrence Quartet featuring Dan Trudell on Saturday (July 13) at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, 20 ABC Mesa Road. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $25 at the door and $20 in advance at taosmesabrewing.com. The show is offered as an affiliated event of the New Mexico Jazz Festival which takes place from July 11 through 28 - see outpostspace.org.
I caught up with Trudell by phone when he was at his home in Lake Geneva, a Wisconsin border resort town about an hour and a half north of Chicago. Trudell has performed with Aretha Franklin, Bob Mintzer, Kenny Burrell and Ron Carter, among others. He holds the piano chair for the Chicago Jazz Orchestra and travels the world with his music.
Trudell told me that when he first met Lawrence through the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, he was impressed by the quality of his playing.
"He was subbing in the band and new in town and I noticed his sound was so great and different than most players. He had that old-school soulful sound, and I was immediately taken by his playing," said Trudell.
Tenor saxophonist Lawrence was born in Louisiana, raised in New Mexico and lived in New York City for over 25 years before returning to the Land of Enchantment. He has performed and recorded with many great artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett, Wild Bill Davis, Benny Goodman, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Lady Gaga and others. Lawrence has been the tenor sax soloist with the 18-time Grammy-winning Count Basie Orchestra for the past two decades.
Trudell said he always looks forward to playing with Lawrence.
"Whenever Doug calls, I'm coming if I can," said Trudell. "I have steady work where I'm at, but I get out of it and fly down to New Mexico. I love going down there. It's a beautiful area."
When I asked Trudell what in particular he enjoys about playing with Lawrence, he responded, "I guess that he's a throwback to another time. And I guess I am, too. We both have an affinity for the soulful jazz of the '40s through the '60s and '70s. After the '70s it seemed like jazz took a turn for more of an intellectual and colder sound. A lot of people are good players, but they are more technically oriented, and you don't feel the beat. He's unique that way. There are not too many people who play that way anymore, and they can't. They can't play that way. He can make one note sound beautiful with his tone whereas a lot of players I play with are good, but they might play a lot of notes and not say as much as what Doug can say in one note."
That's the kind of music that you can expect to hear at the Taos concert with Trudell and Lawrence.
"I think you'll find you can tap your toe to it and feel the rhythm and the beat," said Trudell. "You'll feel something good. You won't feel like it's dead music. You'll feel like it's vibrant. The kind of music we're playing is groovy."
Joining Lawrence and Trudell for their Taos concert will be guitarist John Webber and drummer Yuriana Sobrino Garcia. For more information, visit taosjazz.org.
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