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From Columbia MD, USA: Tom Lawrence

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JJ Rocks article # 265: From Columbia MD, USA: Tom Lawrence

It's not often that I get to write about someone that I have known for so many years. That's because even though I know some of the players on this site, the decision to write about one of them does not rest on my shoulders alone. My staff of musicians that help me choose who to write about must be in full agreement on the article. Now, with that out of the way, please let me introduce a jazz guitar player that I have known longer than any other in my lifetime. He has always been an inspiration to me and his name is Tom Lawrence from Columbia Maryland, USA.

Hands down, Tom Lawrence knows more about jazz guitar than anyone I have ever known personally. I can remember way back in the 70's when I was playing the big "dance halls" with cover bands around the Baltimore/DC area. I would go see Tom on my nights off at a local hotel lounge and say to myself "man, I wish I could do that!" Jazz was not in my list of genres back then and I can honestly say that Tom Lawrence is the reason that I can play it today. And even though I couldn't understand what he was playing at the time, there was something in his technique that pulled me into wanting to learn more about it.

I went to his house one night and he had everything that had to do with jazz guitar. At that time I never even viewed a jazz guitar instructional video. But Tom had many. He also had the latest in music equipment and guitars in his studio. But most important of all, for someone that plays at his level, Tom Lawrence was also the nicest guitarist that I ever met and still is. And at a time when egos were flying around our area, Tom took me in as a fellow guitarist with open arms. That meant so much to me.

After being motivated by Tom Lawrence, I went out and bought a few George Benson albums, then Joe Pass, and then of course, Master Pat Martino. It was like I found a new drug, but it was actually good for me! And I owe it all to Tom Lawrence. And the funny thing is, he probably never knew that until now.

Tom's jazz playing is like bees and honey. He approaches a tune with full comprehension of the changes involved before he ever takes a solo. And when he does, it sounds effortless and very tasteful. Using the word "licks" would be an understatement when it comes to Tom Lawrence. He may at one time copied licks from other great jazz players, but now he is definitely on his own musical turf where he stands, in my opinion, among the very best in jazz guitar improvisation.

JJ Rocks - The Spotlight Zone

You can hear Tom at this link: