Assisted by immortal Jazz great Donald Byrd, Ronnie Laws signed his first recording contract with Blue Note records, resulting in the impressive debut album Pressure Sensitive (1975), produced by family friend, Wayne Henderson, (a founding member of the contemporary jazz pioneers The Crusaders), which rapidly emerged to become the longest selling album, at that time, in the 42 year history of the label.
Pressure Sensitive, was followed up by his second album Fever (1976). Controversy quickly erupted around him, with so called Jazz “purist”, criticizing Laws’ inventive, non-traditional, “Jazz Fusion” style. Laws promptly answered his critics by also scoring unprecedented cross-over success in R&B and Pop, in addition to Jazz, and receiving multiple awards for originality in the process. Laws is a proven natural at combining the exploratory heart of Jazz with the broader reaching strains of Soul and Pop music.
His first hit, “Always There” (credited as Ronnie Laws and Pressure on the original 45), was one of the most popular, sax-driven, cross-over hits of the 70’s Jazz-Funk Fusion era. He ushered in the sensualization of the soprano sax with Quiet Storm gems such as “Grace”, “Karmen”, and “Just Love”. Pressure Sensitive, Fever, and Friends and Strangers (Blue Note 1978), the title track of his third album, all propelled to gold status.
Tom Browne began to carve a path for his musical future early on, studying via scholarship under Murray Karpilovsky (principal trumpeter with the NBC Orchestra directed by Arturo Toscanini.) A student at the co-joined High School of Music and Art / Performing Arts in New York (renowned courtesy of the motion picture entitled “Fame,”) Browne became a regular on the New York jazz scene and had the fortune of learning first hand from masters like Jimmy Nottingham, Richard Williams, Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard. Browne soon played his first pro level performances as sideman to jazz greats Weldon Irvine and Sonny Fortune for which he earned domestic and international recognition.
It was no surprise that Downbeat Magazine would single out his “warm trumpet” during the review of Fortunes’ 1976 “Infinity Is” album. Then in 1978, Browne led a traditional jazz quintet at the Breezin’ Lounge, an uptown New York nightclub indirectly affiliated with George Benson. Through contacts made by Jimmy Boyd, Bensons’ former and Brownes’ subsequent manager, Browne was offered several solo recording contracts and ultimately signed with Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen on the newly formed GRP Record label. There he recorded six solo projects including several hits.
His debut release “Browne Sugar” (1979) dominated the jazz charts for many weeks while “Love Approach” (1980) and “Magic” (1981) each earned gold album status and spawned hits like “Funkin’ For Jamaica,” “Thighs High” and “Secret Fantasy.” Browne went on to win prestigious Billboard honors of Best Instrumentalist, Best Jazz Cross-Over, Best Jazz Artist-Trumpet and Best Jazz Solo Album.
Saturday, January 19, 2013 – 7:00 pm
The Soiled Dove Underground, 7401 E 1st Ave, Denver, Colorado 80230