Steven Dunn / Blog

Q & A with Laurence Washington

Are you self-taught or classically trained? I had music lessons in the DPS schools, learned to read music at an early age. Pretty much self-taught. Who were some of your early influences? Any band in the 60’s, the Beatles, Motown. My Dad’s Jazz record collection, Bluenote, CTI, Verve, Jazz labels. There are many drum God’s that I’ve loved listening to and watching the likes of Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, feeling that I may never achieve the level of precision out and out tanazzatee that they seemed to possess I’ve come to the realization that in music all have the ability to contribute. But I’ve always looked to masters such as Art Blakey, Jack DeJohnette and I’ve also enjoyed the contributions of players like Maurice White, Lenny White and Freddie White. Locally, Nat Yarbrough, who passed a few years back, was a great jazz drummer and a mentor of mine. Childhood friend Ricky Young, believe he is living in Omaha, NE. amazingly talented and Larry Thompson one of the premiere and in demand local players. As for composers; Burt Bacharach, Charles Stepney, Quincy Jones, of course Stevie Wonder, Carol Kaye, James Taylor, Dave Brubeck, Henry Mancini just a few of the many. When I’m put on the spot it’s hard to think. What genre do you classify your music? What would you classify it as? Is it fair to classify your music? I feel It’s not fair to classify anyone’s music. Sure there are guidelines for traditional music’s but today there is such a Hodge podge I don’t feel I possess the ability to decipher but I’m sure there are those who do feel they have that ability. I feel it’s good or it’s not. It either strikes a note with you emotionally or physically or it doesn’t.

Q & A with Laurence Part 2

What was the first instrument you learned to play, and what or who inspired you to pick it up? 3 chords on a guitar, my Dad taught me something’s on the piano. When I was about five, I started playing drums in a family band with my brothers. At the age of eight, I played the snare drum in color guard. I remember being in my third grade classroom when one of the bigger kids who helped in the office came into the class and gave the teacher a pink message slip. The teacher told me that they wanted to see me in the gym now; I was scared I had done something wrong. When I got to the gym, the gym teacher Mr. McQueary who was also the instructor for the color guard was there still befuddled as to why I was pulled out of class. He took me to the band equipment room and pulled the snare drum out. Gave me a marching cadence to play and since I had been drumming with my family since I was five, I thought playing the same cadence with no variations was kind of boring. So I started mixing it up and to my amazement Mr. McQueary told me how impressed he was and how no one he had auditioned to that point could keep the cadence going let alone mix it up and keep the beat. That day I became the color guard drummer. Needless to say I was very happy about this as we were, as a color guard invited to Jr. High and High Schools to present the colors at some of their assemblies. I came from a musical family. Music was something we did as a family. There was always music in our home. From my Mom singing in the kitchen, I saw how joyful it made her. She was too shy to sing in public. My Dad played piano, upright bass and guitar. My Uncles used to sing barbershop quartet style and Italian folk songs. I know they are only two jokers in a deck of cards, so their were a few deck of cards missing their jokers. They had fun with the music and always made others smile with it. How long did it take to record Tears of Joy? It didn’t happen overnight. Well, to begin with I originally was trying to get together a demo reel to submit to publishing houses and labels pursuing a staff writer position. But after starting that I thought to myself that if I applied myself and called in favors from friends that it could be more than that. So off I went pursuing that. I didn’t have the luxury to lock out studio time and go into the studio for 3-6 months. It just wasn’t in the budget. The budget, there just was none and life with its complications continued, all the time tearing me away from the project. But bound and determined I never let it go and worked on it as I was able too. All the time telling myself, I could do it. Though many times it seemed impossible and that I would never complete my undertaking, I persevered. When life got hard and it seemed to just say I was tripping and I couldn’t do this seemingly impossible task, after all I was borrowing equipment and borrowing people’s time, somehow it came together. Which I contribute to the power of the Holy Spirit. With men impossible, with God all things are possible. I would like to thank my family for their unrelenting support and encouragement during this period. Who never stopped encouraging or believing, especially my Mother. God love her.

Q & A with Laurence Part 3

How many hats did you have to wear in cutting Tears of Joy? Everything from maintenance man, writer, composer, arranger, producer, engineer to artist. A lot of everything and then some. What’s your favorite cut on the CD? Did it come naturally? With nurturing, they all came naturally. It’s like children; there is no favorite. Sentimentally – Petals of a Rose. So far as a loving inspired work for my Momma, but like I said, like children they all have their own attributes to me and hopefully many of you will feel the same way. After recording Tears of Joy, what is the one thing you know for sure? It’s a lot easier to collaborate. One of the drawbacks of working largely by yourself is you don’t have any one to bounce off of. Basically you have to rely on your own judgment and feelings, which at times can be quite a perplexing proposition! What was your inspiration for the title Tears of Joy? Those afore mentioned perplexing propositions, that seem to dictate but surrender leaving you so happy, that you are so emotionally charged you tear just a little because of overwhelming joy. All the times in my life when I was happy, joyful, proud, everyone has experiences of Tears of Joy at some point in your life. Like the crucifixion and the resurrection, you’re saddened that a man for no other reason than another man’s insecurities was persecuted but rose for the salvation for all mankind. So glad and thankful at the completion of the course of events! If you don’t have Tears of Joy something is wrong with you, in my opinion. What’s in your CD player at this moment? My music listening is pretty eclectic. If it’s good and touches me somewhere in some way I’ll listen to it. What was your first gig? Summer break talent shows, on to house party’s one of the big one’s was a talent show at the Casino Ballroom (on Welton St.) all with my brothers at the age of five and six. What would you say has been your finest hour as a musician? Anytime you’re doing what you love to do is a fine moment. I’d have to say since it was my first experience on that level, writing and performing with one of the great CTI artist something I could only dream of up to that point, recording with the great legendary Stanley Turrentine would probably be considered a high point for sure. Going on to Ramsey Lewis and of course my brother Larry. Not to mention recording Tears of Joy. For every step forward, there were three steps back. Obstacles and deterrents. But by the grace of God I’ve completed the task I took on with the release of Tears of Joy. I have to say a great thank you to Patrick Karanfilovic and the Alliance Records family for affording me the opportunity to share my Tears of Joy with the world. When did you know Tears of Joy was ready for release? January 17, 2013 What do you want listeners to take away from Tears of Joy? A joyful good feeling, and a enlightened uplifted spirit.

I would like to thank Blackflix for this opportunity. And going all the way back to Tree King with New Avenue.

Thank you Laurence. Godspeed my brother!

Tears of Joy available now on Itunes and Amazon.com Hard copies available soon.