Wednesday, May 15, 2002

All By Myself

Posted By on Wed, May 15, 2002 at 12:00 AM

This is the one. No doubt about it — This is the one.

I have reviewed both of John E. Lawrence’s earlier recordings, and both of them were fine pieces of work produced by a master of the guitar. It wasn’t by accident that one of his solos was transcribed in Mel Bay’s “Collector’s Edition Anthology of Jazz Solos” where his contribution is listed along with some of the biggest names in the business.

Nevertheless Lawrence, who lives in Ypsilanti, recalls that his friends and supporters still
didn’t think that either recording communicated the same kind of fire and wonder as his solo live performances. There was too much clutter. Horns. Strings. Voices. Excess baggage. Anyone who has ever heard Lawrence play — I mean really play — knows that he is frequently at his best when playing All By Myself.

On this CD, Lawrence obliges his growing circle of fans by giving them what they have been asking for; guitar, guitar, more guitar and nothing but guitar. Lawrence’s choice of songs ranges from the classics, such as “Black Orpheus” and “Birdland,” to Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” and “I Wish.”

Not many guitarists could pull this off and keep it interesting. Not many guitarists play like John E. Lawrence.

Keith A. Owens is a Detroit-based freelance writer and musician. E-mail him at


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