Born: October 11, 1956 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
Tenor saxophonist Doug Lawrence spent over 20 years as one of the most in-demand jazz musicians in New York City. Among the artists he has performed and recorded with include - Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, Benny Goodman, Ray Charles, Rosemary Clooney, Jimmy Cobb's Mob, Sarah Vaughan, Buck Clayton, Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Eldridge, Wild Bill Davis, Benny Carter, Bobby Short, Patti Austin, Grover Mitchell, The Smithsonian Masterworks Orchestra, Dennis Mackrel's Manhatten Jazz Orchestra, George Bensen and many others.
Doug has performed on six continents at virtually every major concert hall, jazz club and jazz festival in the world, including - Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Royal Albert Hall, The Blue Notes in Japan, Italy and New York, The Village Vangaurd, Blues Alley, Birdland, The North Sea Jazz Festival, Umbria Jazz Festival, Newport, Chicago, Montreal, New Orleans, New York, Los Angeles and Nice Jazz Festivals and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to mention just a few. Doug has also performed for 4 American Presidents, including both of President Clinton's Inaugurals.
As a featured soloist with the 17-time Grammy-winning World Famous Count Basie Orchestra, Doug continues to tour extensively (see tour dates page). The Basie Band has no parallel in jazz. They have won more awards, polls and Grammys than any other jazz band in history. The chair Doug fills (lead tenor) has been inhabited by a virtual who's who of jazz tenor saxophonists. They include - Lester Young, Hershel Evans, Don Byas, Eli Lucky Thompson, Bud Johnson, Buddy Tate, Illinois Jacquet, Wardell Gray, Frank Wess, Frank Foster, Billy Mitchell, Sal Nistico, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Jimmy Forrest and Kenny Hing.
Doug has appeared on over 100 recordings (see discography page) including four critically acclaimed recordings of his own - Soul Carnival (#3 USA 2/98, Top 10 for 14 weeks, Gavin Jazz Radio Report), High Heel Sneakers (#11 USA 2/99, Top 20 for 10 weeks, Gavin Jazz Radio Report), the extraordinarily popular Big Band Swing and Doug's latest CD, Street Wise on the Alltribe label. 2006 releases Doug can be heard on include - Blue Print Of A Lady-Nneenna Freelon on Concord Records, Basie's Back on Sony-Japan Records and the upcoming Concord label release featuring Ray Charles with The Count Basie Orchestra.
In 1999 Doug was asked to lead an all-star big band in Chicago at the famous Black Orchid night club. What started out as a six-week engagement, turned into three years as the Black Orchid house band. The Doug Lawrence Orchestra was such a hit with critics and audiences alike that Doug moved to Chicago full time (the first time in over 20 years Doug made his permanent home outside New York City). The Doug Lawrence Orchestra continues to perform for 'special events' not just in Chicago, but throughout the USA.
As a masterclass clinician, Doug is able to bring his considerable experience as a musician and his numerous credits as a musical director to the classroom for an extremely enlightened masterclass. His expertise in ensemble playing and improvisation, and his uncanny ability to relate with students, make him an educator that inspires incredible results. Specializing in big band and small groups, Doug is increasingly in demand from high schools and colleges around the world to teach and perform with their programs.
In 2003 Doug and his wife Cara moved back to Doug's childhood home of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It had been 27 years since Doug left his family home in Albuquerque to pursue his career in jazz. Now, living in the Land Of Enchantment, Doug enjoys his time off from his busy touring schedule, relaxing and spending time with his family and friends. When time permits, Doug makes rare New Mexico appearences (always heavily attended) with local and international talent.
For more about Doug Lawrence check out - The Encyclopedia of Jazz by Leonard Feather & Ira Gitler.
There's tone, facility, repertoire, choice of notes. After that it all comes down to phrasing. Think of Coleman Hawkins, Louis Armstrong, Ben Webster, Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra. They were able to touch our collective soul with their extraordinary sense of phrasing. Tenor man Doug Lawrence has got it. His phrasing is fluid, relaxed, conversational and charming, just like his easy going, seductive Southern drawl. - Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times
I've been a fan of Doug Lawrence since a night in 1983 when he uncurled his tall lanky frame from Loren Schoenberg's sax section to play a solo that swung and told a story from first note to last. It was clear he had that something special that is the mark of a true jazz musician. Today, as then, there's nothing forced about Doug's playing: It is, as they say, the real thing. - Dan Morgenstern, Former Editor of DownBeat, Head of the Institute Of Jazz at Rutgers University
The Count Basie Orchestra exploded with their very first number at the Dewan Filharmonik Hall in Kuala Lumpur last night. Largely made up of younger players with a few veterans from Count's day, this modern band still retains a hard-swinging, riff-oriented quality and a couple of star soloists, including the famous drummer Butch Miles. It became clear that tenor saxophonist Doug Lawrence was the real star soloist here - largely because of all the younger musicians in the band he seemed most comfortable within the stylistic setting. This is not to detract from his magnificence as a musician - his sound and phrasing are muscular but elegant and his solos are never in a hurry, but always exciting. No small feat to be outstanding in a band this good. - Greg Lyons, Malaysian Arts Scene
The professional credentials Doug Lawrence has racked up, are astonishing! - Howard Mandel, DownBeat
Like a river, Doug Lawrence's big sound rushes effortlessly, naturally, shifting from smooth to raucous. His tone is always rich in a Dexter Gordon way. - David Steinberg, Albuquerque Journal
Scott Hamilton and Doug Lawrence underscore the fact that not all the swinging tenor saxophonists are playing with the proverbial big band in the sky. - Dick Zander, New York Newsday
Doug Lawrence is the perfect choice to fill the chair of an elite list of powerful 'in your face' tenor players on the Basie Band. It brings me great joy to hear him solo with the band. - Frank Foster, Jazz Legend and former Basie tenor saxophonist and leader
The battle of the bands between Jon Faddis's Big Band and The Count Basie Orchestra at the IAJE conference was a draw until Doug Lawrence delivered the 'knock out' blow with his solo on Ernie Wilken's great arrangement Basie. I sat there listening, taking a lesson from the masterful Mr. Wilken's composition. It proves, yet again, that Count Basie is just as valid in 2006 as he was in 1935! - Bob Brookmeyer, Jazz Legend
In my 15 years of teaching, I have never witnessed a guest lecturer have the impact on students (and myself) the way Mr. Lawrence did. He had our undivided attention from the first moment he took the podium. I can't recommend him highly enough! - Laura McGowan, Valley High School, Albuquerque, NM
Doug inspired my students to new heights! The band sounded better immediately and the kids became very motivated after his clinic. I had him back a second time the following year with equally great results. - Mayo Tiana, Former Jazz Trombonist with Ray Charles, Head of Jazz Studies at North Eastern Illinois University
Modern master of the tenor saxophone! - Paul Weideman, Santa Fe Reporter
A Rising Star! - Chip Deffaa, New York Post