TIR 87: Ronnie Laws Lays Down His Rules of Musical Engagement


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 87 (2 Parts): One of the most prominent, successful and tasty jazz-soul-funk saxophonists to arrive on the scene since the mid-1970s — Ronnie Laws. Coming from a musical family that includes jazz flautist Hubert Laws and singers Eloise and Debra Laws, and growing up in Houston around the block from The Crusaders, Ronnie got his professional start with Earth, Wind and Fire in 1972. Leaving to pursue a solo career, he performed with Hugh Masekela and did session work until Donald Byrd helped him land a recording deal with Blue Note Records that resulted in his stellar debut album, 1975’s Pressure Sensitive. That record took off on the strength of the funky instrumental hit, “Always There.” Through the years, he would release more than 20 of his own albums, with seven of them cracking Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart.

Some of his other hits included “Friends and Strangers,” “Saturday Evening,” “Something Special,” “Every Generation,” “Stay Awake,” “In the Groove” and “City Girl.” He also appeared on dozens of other artists’ works, including his siblings, Wayne Henderson, Patrice Rushen, Miki Howard, Ramsey Lewis, Deniece Williams, Jeff Lorber, Sister Sledge, Larry Dunn and Maurice White.

In this interview, recorded nearly a year after technical issues preempted Laws’ initial TRUTH IN RHYTHM appearance, the sax master talks about his amazing musical family and upbringing, the thrill of playing with heroes like B.B. King and Quincy Jones, why he left Earth, Wind and Fire, how his hit albums and tracks were created, why he feels shunned by the smooth jazz movement, how his son is following in his woodwind footsteps, a recent lifetime achievement honor, and the excitement of imminent new music and ongoing live performances. It’s time learn the laws of soulful and funky jazz according to one of its principal architects, Mr. Ronnie Laws.