“Mike had an extraordinary talent… his solos were charmed; thoughtful, magical, powerful, enchanted.”– Bob James
“This live band will be led by the great trumpeter, Chris Rogers, who knew Mike well, and literally grew up as a fan of Mike’s playing and writing abilities. The wonderful tenor saxophonist Sam Dillon is taking the place of my late brother, Michael, in this tribute to Mike’s musical legacy. I’m quite sure they’re both the best men to reside in the “hot seats” for this exciting night of live Mike Lawrence Music.”– Randy Brecker
Lawrence’s concept seems based firmly on the melodic side of bebop. Clifford’s side. Lee Morgan’s… he uses the whole range of the horn to often dazzling effect.”– Richard Sudhalter, The NY Post
Marking the 40th year since the extraordinary trumpeter/composer Mike Lawrence’s sudden and tragic passing at the age of 37, this multi-generation, top-tier sextet, helmed by trumpeter Chris Rogers and Long-Island-based tenor saxophonist Sam Dillon, presents the intriguing original compositions that Lawrence performed in New York City jazz clubs from 1977 to 1982, usually with Michael Brecker on tenor sax. Lawrence was cast into the jazz virtuoso limelight when, at only 21 years old, he was chosen by legendary saxophonist Joe Henderson to be featured on the 1967 seminal album, The Kicker. In a band that included Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, Louis Hayes and Grachan Moncur III, Lawrence’s talent stood out as astonishing, cementing his reputation as a fiery and fearless trumpet soloist. Henderson subsequently tapped Lawrence to appear as a soloist on Henderson’s 1969 album Power to the People, with the stellar band of Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Jack DeJohnette. The New York City-based Lawrence went on to record and tour with such jazz legends as Eddie Palmieri, Gil Evans, Bob Moses, Larry Coryell and the Eleventh House, Horace Silver, Bob James, and French Toast (with Michel Camilo), while simultaneously focusing on composing and being a bandleader.
Throughout the late 70s until his death in 1983, Lawrence was a major presence in the New York City studio and jazz scene performing at the legendary Mikell’s and Seventh Avenue South with eye-popping bands that included Michael Brecker, Kenny Kirkland, Lyle Mays, Steve Jordan, Hiram Bullock, Clifford Carter, Will Lee, and Marcus Miller, to name a few. In 1987, with generous musical contributions from the jazz community, including Herbie Hancock, Bob James and Michael Brecker, Lawrence’s widow, Roberta, and producer, Larry Gates, completed the album NIGHTWIND, containing seven of Lawrence’s original compositions.
This was the first time in jazz history that a jazz musician, without any previous recordings as a leader, had a debut album released posthumously. The album charted at number 7 on the Billboard Jazz Chart, just a couple of positions after Wynton Marsalis. To celebrate the forthcoming remixed and remastered release of Nightwind, trumpeter/composer Chris Rogers, a mentee, and friend of Lawrence’s, helms the Mike Lawrence Legacy Band, eager to share the body of work of a great composer and pay tribute to a fallen peer’s legacy. Featured on tenor saxophone has Long-Island-bred Sam Dillon; Clifford Carter, who toured with James Taylor for decades, plays keyboards, Steve Johns on drums, Brian Glassman on bass, and Theo Rogers on guitar.