Monday, May 9, 2016

Tim Price Blogging For D'Addario Woodwinds- Give me 5. . With tenor saxophone master Doug Lawrence.

It has been my contention that the most valuable viewpoints come from those who do. Thus, it’s logical to assume that any artist who is surviving in this field, and doing it with success, is doing something right. The energies we all put into our craft; The years of apprenticeship and the intense commitment to the horn, and the pure love of playing it are paramount to the art form. This section of my D'Addario Woodwinds Blogs by Tim Price, to all intents and purposes is a sort of portable omnibus of sax / woodwind creations. Musically, verbally and spiritually. The music these players create and talk about is a privilege to be a part of. The music always has an infinite history and fertility, inexhaustible vitality, and at the same time, a seductive power of temptation - which inspires all of us who play – and offers the open-ended invitation to create as much as we can. The results, the waiting, the practicing at all hours, the talking of the music and constant study gives the music a breath of spirit, endless in motion and evolution. This weeks blog features a player whom I respect highly- Doug Lawrence...One of today's tenor voices and a inspiration to all who hear his creativity. I'll tell you what I love about Doug's playing...EVERYTHING. This guy has the roots, the story to tell and is a master musician. Check him out- he's one of the real ones. When he feel it! Listen carefully dear reader to this Basie tenor legend- his words come from time put into the music and time on the bandstand.

1- How have the last few years of your life affected your current music?

1. The past few years have been some of the happiest of my life because of the birth of my daughter. Johnny Williams told me when I have a kid it would make me play better, and he was right. It's hard to describe, but it is definitely true.

  2. How did you choose to play the saxophone, and what players influenced you early on?

2. I started out as a classical clarinet player at a very young age. My father played all the reed instruments and had saxophones hidden under his bed. He told me never to touch them. (He wanted me to just play classical so I could try to get in a major orchestra and get all he benefits etc). I was home sick in 7th grade for several weeks with bronchitis. One day my mother went to the grocery store and I put an album on the stereo my dad had. "Coltrane Plays For Lovers"... I couldn't believe how great it sounded! Then I put on another record my father had "Stan Getz at the Royal Roost"..I was hooked. I went under the bed and got his tenor out (5-digit Mark VI with a Link mouthpiece Stan Getz had given my dad) and started playing. My mom came home from the grocery store and thought it was my dad playing in the back room. She almost jumped out of her skin when she walked back and saw me playing. Needless to say, I was in big trouble when my dad got home, but later that night he got the horn out and said "let's hear it". He just shook his head when I started playing and my mom started crying. A few months later he got me a Martin alto and a Conn 10M.

3. At this point in life - What inspires you musically?

3. I am still inspired everyday to play because I think I am getting better. I love to play the horn more than ever now. That is the great thing about music. You never stop learning. My father played up until the day he died. My mom told me he sounded great that day! The other thing that really inspires me is listening to who I call my Guru's almost daily. They are - Paul Gonsalves, Gene Ammons, Dex, Wardell, Prez, Ben, Stitt, Hawk and guys like Lucky Thompson, Billy Mitchell, Tina Brooks, Fathead, Zoot, Getz, Trane, Eddie Harris, Newk. I love a melodic approach to playing. And I love a distinctive tone. I listen everyday for years and years to the same tunes sometimes and I always hear something new. It's inspiring!

4. Your choice of notes is really inspiring- talk about how you arrive at this kind of destination as an artist. What are you thinking about in terms of your solos, and agenda.

DOUG - 4. When I am improvising I almost never think about the chord changes. I use my ear and I try to "sing" through the horn. I was taught the "old school" way of playing, and that is to use my ears and learn as many standards as possible. When everything is working right, I'm not thinking at all when I play. It's all just happening! Or if I am thinking at all, I might be thinking about a beautiful woman in the front row or something like that. LOL!!! Cats that really know me know this about me. I was doing a Christmas tune tenor feature ballad at Walt Disney Hall a few years ago and the arrangement wasn't really happening if you know what I mean. But I had to do the feature. So as I was walking out to the mic at the performance, Dennis Mackrel who was the MD and has known me for 30 years says to me - "play this one for your daughter"....that's all it took. We brought the house down, even with a sad arrangement. For me, music and improvisation can mean more from the heart than from the head.

5. Talk about some projects coming up in your future, ideas and agendas. Also thank you for doing this Doug- it's a total pleasure. I'm a fan and always will be!

5. I have a few things on the horizon that I am excited about. I have a 3 horn band (tenor, trumpet, bari) with Hammond B3, guitar and drums (band members - Bruce Harris, Lauren Sevian, Ray Macchiarola, Bobby Floyd and Dave Gibson). We have a few tunes in the can so far and hopefully we can record the remainder of the album this summer in NYC. I'm hoping to have a winter 2016 release. The other thing I'm really excited about is a new "Doug Lawrence Signature" tenor mouthpiece currently in development. My friend Bob Sheppard has a model out and it has been very successful. The same company who puts his out has approached me to put my model out too. Eric Falcon is the designer and Macsax is the company. Hopefully mine will be as successful as Shep's!


  1. Great interview of a fantastic artist! Wow!!!

  2. The great thing about Doug that he modestly doesn't mention here is, he is one of the "swingingest" tenor players alive. His beat is incredible! The other thing he fails to mention is, without exception, Doug is always searching for the "blue note" when he is improvising. All of his solos are drenched in the blues! We are so proud and honored to have him as an official endorser for our TM Custom tenor saxophones.

    1. We couldn't agree more. Hence Doug's long association with the greatest blues and swing big band ever, The Count Basie Orchestra. We too feel lucky and proud to have Doug on our artist roster.