Jazz Album of the Week: Contrast—with Trumpeter Josh Lawrence & Color Theory

May 14, 2018

May 14, 2018. If you live in the Philadelphia area, chances are you know the name Josh Lawrence, even if you can’t remember why.  The trumpeter and composer has been a mainstay of the Philly jazz scene for years. On his new album Contrast, Lawrence and his band Color Theory create a kaleidoscope of shifting shades well worth a listen.

Lawrence is a busy guy.  He's played with numerous bands and his Color Theory ensemble is a collection of some of the finest musicians on the East Coast. The Curtis Brothers grace this album, along with Caleb Curtis (no relation) on alto sax, David Gibson on trombone, and Anwar Marshall on the drums.

Lawrence’s versatility as a composer is apparent on this recording of mostly originals, touching on some bop, some blues, and the abstract. The first notes of “Around the Circle” and “In the Black Square” will have you thinking you’re listening to a Lee Morgan record.

The color theme continues with “Gray," “Brown” and “Agent Orange”—each painting their own picture using improvisation and electronic elements.

Iconic Philadelphia pianist Orrin Evans appears on “Blues on the Bridge,” a funky number brimming with fun. Evans also accompanies Lawrence on the only arrangement on this album, a beautiful take on Prince’s “Sometimes It Snows In April,” which was quite fitting for the spring of 2018.

With the caliber of musicians on Contrast, this album can’t miss. The sound palette on each track makes it truly exciting, and classy.