pdxJazz Festival Presents
Puttin' It Together:
A Tribute to Elvin Jones
Friday 19 February 2016
Jimmy Mak's, Portland, Oregon








Alan Jones / drums
Azar Lawrence / sax
Sonny Fortune / sax
Jonathan Lakey / bass


Jones moved to Portland Oregon at an early age. He began playing the drums and guitar as a young child and had some instruction from local Jazz Pianist and Educator Arletta O'hearn Jones spent his high school years soaking in the vibrant local music scene. "I saw Dexter Gordon when I was in high school," recalls Jones, who sneaked in an upstairs window to soak up the music before he was caught and ejected".

After moving to Boston in 1980 Jones graduated from the Berklee College of Music where he studied with the jazz drummer Alan Dawson. During this time he spent two summers at the Banff Center for the Fine Arts in Canada and also made appearances in his home town of Portland. Jones moved to New York City in 1984 and as a tenant of the same Brooklyn apartment building as Jim Pepper and bassist Ben Wolfe, where he organized many jam sessions.

In 1985 while still in New York City, Jones met Canadian Saxophonist Phil Dwyer and they both performed as members of the David Friesen trio, a tenure which lasted into the next decade. In 1988, Jones moved to Europe splitting his home between Vienna and Paris. This led to Jones sharing leadership and compositional duties with band mates in The Fensters and performing at Europe's leading jazz festivals. This also coincided with tours of England, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the Czech Republic. During his time in Europe, Jones also continued to tour with The David Friesen Trio[13] throughout the U.S. and extensively up and down the West Coast[13] as well as additional dates in Canada with Kenny Wheeler.

Upon returning to Portland in 1996, Jones stepped further into the roll of band leader and composer with the formation of The Alan Jones Sextet and led to the creation of The Alan Jones Academy of Music (AJAM.)

AJAM is an innovative education system focused on personal and collective improvisation from grade school through retirement, and prompted the city of Portland to honor him with an award for "Outstanding Achievement in Jazz". Students have been involved in projects ranging from collaborating with Michael Curry on multimedia stage presentations to balancing on tightropes to playing in International Jazz Festivals.

Azar Lawrence

Azar Lawrence grew up during an era of prolificacy and transcendence in Jazz music that, to this day, has stood the test of time.  While still very young, Azar began playing with many jazz legends and, at just seventeen, he played his first professional gigs abroad with Clark Terry and Muddy Waters. He has composed, produced and performed with acclaimed jazz luminary McCoy Tyner for over five years and with Elvin Jones for many years.

After high school, at the age of 19, Azar played with George Cables, Candy Finch, Larry Gales, and Woody Shaw at a regular gig at a Los Angeles club on 54th St. A self-proclaimed funkateer, the versatile Lawrence would perform with Ike & Tina Turner, the Watts 103rd St. Band, and War.  Azar had a life-changing moment when, at the age of 20, he was introduced to Elvin Jones (at the ‘Lighthouse’) by his friend and musical guide, Reggie Golson. Within a week of meeting Elvin, Azar would leave Los Angeles for New York to become a member of Jones’ band, “Jazz Machine.”

After a few years with Jones, he joined McCoy Tyner’s group for five years. These priceless years with two-thirds of the classic John Coltrane Quartet made an indelible mark on Lawrence’s life and music, imbuing him with a spirituality that would last a life time. During this time, Miles Davis would often hear Azar when he was playing in New York City with Tyner and Jones. One night, Miles approached Azar about joining his group and no one refused Miles. Azar’s first concert with Davis was in Washington D.C. and, soon after, they performed and recorded Dark Magus(1974), live at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Since the early 2000’s, this consummate artist has returned full force to his post-Bop Jazz roots. Lawrence’s distinctive sound embodies a deep spirituality which can be heard on Tyner’s “Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit”, and on his own numerous recordings on Prestige and other top jazz labels.

Never missing a beat, Azar Lawrence’s shows sparkle with virtuosity,  vivid ideas and palpable textures. To the discerning listener, Lawrence’s depth can only be attributed to one who has ‘been there’.  And ‘there’ he most definitely was.


Sonny Fortune

When critics speak of Sonny Fortune, names like Coltrane, Cannonball, Young, Bechet, Hawkins and Parker are mentioned. Quite a legacy - but well deserved - for Sonny Fortune embodies all of the finest qualities of those late, great musicians: hard work, dedication to his art, and exceptional music. Lucky for us, Sonny is still here and blowing hard.

After moving to New York City in 1967 Fortune recorded and appeared live with drummer Elvin Jones's group. In 1968 he was a member of Mongo Santamaría's band. He subsequently performed with singer Leon Thomas, and with pianist McCoy Tyner (1971–73).

In 1974 Fortune replaced Dave Liebman in Miles Davis's ensemble, remaining until spring 1975, when he was succeeded by Sam Morrison. Fortune can be heard on the albums Big Fun, Get Up With It, Agharta and Pangaea, the last two recorded live in Japan.

Fortune joined Nat Adderley after his brief tenure with Davis, and then went on to form his own group in June 1975, recording two albums for the Horizon (A&M) label. During the 1990s, he recorded several acclaimed albums for theBlue Note label. He has also performed with Roy Brooks, Buddy Rich, George Benson, Rabih Abou Khalil, Roy Ayers, Oliver Nelson, Gary Bartz, Rashied Ali and Pharoah Sanders, as well as appearing on the live album The Atlantic Family Live at Montreux (1977).

Jonathan Lakey

By the age of 7, Jonathan was already pursuing music and performance in many arenas. After mastering piano, he moved on to percussion, electric bass, saxophone, clarinet and acoustic bass... all by the time he was 21.

Jonathan has played gigs all over the world, from Seattle, WA to Vannes, France. He currently resides here in Portland where he's kept busy as a professional bass player, composer and educator. Jonathan has been a part of the Alan Jones Academy of Music since the summer of 2011.


pdxJazz is a non-profit cultural arts organization dedicated to curating jazz in Portland, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. We strive to inspire, educate and develop future jazz audiences for generations to come.



Recorded by Alan Niven in four channels of audio and one camera. Mixed by Alan NIven. Produced by wolftraks.com for pdxJazz, Portland, Oregon.