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Back onstage: Doug Lawrence Quartet to perfrom drive-in concert in Taos

Legendary musician Doug Lawrence will perform with his quartet in a drive-in concert on Friday, April 30, in Taos. (Courtesy of Taos Center for the Arts)

Doug Lawrence is always excited to perform onstage.

After a year of not setting foot on one, the legendary jazz musician is ready.

“I haven’t been able to work,” the tenor saxophonist says. “This will be a fun event to get onstage with my friends.”

The Doug Lawrence Quartet will perform a drive-in concert at 2 p.m. Friday, April 30, at the Taos Center for the Arts backlot.

The event will adhere to all state health orders, organizers say.

After TCA’s successful drive-in concerts in summer and fall 2020, the Taos Jazz Bebop Society returns with Lawrence’s concert, which will be broadcast over FM radio to audience members, who will park in the lot and remain in their vehicles for the duration of the concert.

The concert takes place on International Jazz Day, established by UNESCO in 2011 to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.

“It’s huge to be able to present live music here in Taos on International Jazz Day!” says Judy Katzman, Taos Jazz Bebop Society president. “We’ve had a long year of musical deprivation. Partnering with TCA on this concert means these great players can finally – and safely – get back in front of a live audience (sitting in their cars!) – even though the shutdown still persists for all concert venues.”

Lawrence, who grew up in New Mexico, has worked with artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett, Nancy Wilson, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Celia Cruz, Benny Goodman, Stevie Wonder, Buck Clayton, Wild Bill Davis and Jimmy Cobb.

Lawrence will be joined onstage by three great New Mexico jazzmen: keyboardist Steve Figueroa, bassist Milo Jaramillo and drummer Pete Amahl. Figuero is a native of Laguna Pueblo, Jaramillo is from Isleta Pueblo, and Amahl has been a mainstay of the New Mexico jazz scene for more than 40 years.

“Steve and I have been friends for years. I was friends with his father when I used to play with him in the 1970s,” Lawrence says. “Milo, I used to work with his father as well. Milo is a great bass player. And Pete I’ve known since I was 18 or 19. He’s a staple in New Mexico since he got off tour with Natalie Cole’s band in the 1970s.”

Lawrence says the audience can expect to hear, of course, jazz and Latin jazz.

“These are all old friends that I’ve known for a long time,” Lawrence says. “We’re going to have a ball. There’s nothing better than a friendship that endures decades.”

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