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Jazz

Azar Lawrence, “The Seeker” (Sunnyside). We are, let’s face it, unlikely to ever again hear McCoy Tyner discs that have the power of his greatest discs from the ’70s and ’80s. This disc by Tyner’s frequent tenor and soprano saxophonist Azar Lawrence is the closest thing you’ll ever hear to those discs and, therefore, in direct musical descendance from one of the greatest of all jazz groups, the John Coltrane Quartet. It was, in fact, Coltrane’s great and inimitable drummer Elvin Jones who brought a young Lawrence to New York to play with him in 1973. The crucial pianist here is Benito Gonzalez, musically speaking, “speaks” Tyner so fluently on the piano that he sounds not just like a musical countryman of Tyner’s but a family member. The big difference here from a disc that would be completely in neo-Coltrane mode is the addition of trumpet player Nicolas Payton, who gives everything the possibility of sudden thoughtfulness and not just ecstatic screams and flurries. With drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts on it, this is one powerhouse jazz quintet (the bassist is Essiet Okon Essiet). The disc was recorded live at New York City’s Jazz Standard in 2011. I could have done without the fadeout on the opener ”Gandhi” but, with some reservations, it couldn’t be more welcome. 3½ stars (Jeff Simon)