Josh Lawrence says farewell to Philadelphia with Color Theory shows at South

josh lawrence
Josh Lawrence | photo courtesy of the artist

In some ways, Josh Lawrence’s new album Color Theory serves as a farewell to Philadelphia. At the same time that the trumpet player was in the studio last summer, he was making arrangements to move to New York City, that essential proving ground for rising stars in the jazz world.

At the same time, the album, which Lawrence will celebrate this weekend at South, shows off the simmering chemistry of a largely Philly-based band and a sound steeped in the raucous, burning hard-bop style so rooted in this city – suggesting that Lawrence may not be so eager to leave his adopted hometown behind.

“I feel rooted here,” Lawrence said over coffee last month at La Colombe, with City Hall looming in the background. “I’ve lived in Philly longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my life, and people here consider me as being from Philly. This is where I’m rooted musically, too – the record sounds like a Philly record to me.”

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Talking Miles Ahead with Philly jazzman Josh Lawrence

Don Cheadle in Miles Ahead | photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Don Cheadle in Miles Ahead | photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The idea of Don Cheadle playing Miles Davis has been floating around for at least a decade, ever since the legendary trumpeter’s son, Erin Davis, and nephew, Vince Wilburn Jr., proposed the idea while inducting Davis into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. The notion finally came to big-screen fruition this year as Miles Ahead, in a form different than anyone might have expected (it opens at the Ritz Five on tonight).

Doubling as director, Cheadle deviated from the standard biopic format to create a heist-movie fantasia with Miles at its center,aiming for the spirit rather than the factual reality of its subject. I wondered how the film might look to someone directly influenced by Miles’ music, so I invited trumpeter Josh Lawrence, co-founder of the Fresh Cut Orchestra and host of the Thursday night jazz series at Jose Garces’ Volver Restaurant, to attend a screening with me and discuss the film afterward.  Continue reading →