Jazz Masters of Houston: Hubert Laws
|Courtesy of hubertlaws.com|
|The Hubert Laws Quintet|
Beginning in 1964, Laws began recording albums as the leader of his own band and has since produced dozens of albums, beginning with three for the Atlantic label: The Laws of Jazz, Flute By-Laws, and Laws' Cause. He then switched to the CTI label and annually produced an album for many years. Most of these were jazz efforts, but in 1971 Laws recorded a classical album, The Rite of Spring, with an ensemble of other noted jazz players. The album won Laws a large following in the classical music community.
But Laws is probably best known for his rendition of "Amazing Grace," which he cut in the early 1970s to please his father, who reportedly didn't really understand Laws' recordings.
The winner of three Grammys, Laws, whose younger brother Ronnie was an original member of Earth, Wind, and Fire, has continued to perform at the highest levels of both jazz and classical music throughout his career. He has headlined at the most prestigious jazz festivals in the world and has worked as a session musician with the likes of George Benson, Chet Baker, Chick Corea, Astrid Gilberto, Ron Carter, Freddy Hubbard, Jaco Pastorius, Lalo Schifrin, Houston Person, Gabor Szabo, McCoy Tyner, and fellow flautist Herbie Mann.
Laws has also collaborated on numerous albums with Quincy Jones, and has recorded or performed with a vast array of popular music stars: Paul McCartney, Nancy Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Carly Simon.
The National Endowment for the Arts presented Laws its Lifetime Achievement award in 2010. NEA followed up in 2011 naming Laws a Jazz Master. Interviewed for the NEA by A. B. Spellman, Laws explained why he had pursued a career in jazz versus sticking with classical orchestras.
"Beautiful music comes out of those orchestras from the composers that give them the floor map for playing. But to be locked in that situation for many, many years, I can understand perhaps it may contribute to some high level of boredom."
Laws is set to receive the Los Angeles Jazz Society's Lifetime Achievement Award October 27. He will be part of the Mumbai, India Jazz Festival in late December.
Laws resides in Los Angeles.
This is the first in a series spotlighting the giants of Houston jazz. Some are natives who moved on to pursue their musical destiny, others are artists born elsewhere who have chosen Houston as their home.