Friday, November 21, 2008

Silent jazzman: Lawrence Wheatley

Located near Washington Circle in Washington D.C., One Step Down was the city's cool, hip jazz club from the 1980s into the mid 1990s. And, yes there was a step down at the front door.

The coolest, hippest cat who played there was also the most mysterious and the most urbane: Lawrence Wheatley, composer and pianist.

Mr. Wheatley died October 19th.

I worked at the One Step for a few years. But before that, there had been many Sundays when I would stop in for a hair-of-the-dog brunch, reviving from Saturday evenings of too much fun, as Mr. Wheatley would lead the Sunday jam sessions.

From a comment posted at Express Night Out:

Anyone associated with the jazz scene in Washington DC over the past half century or more would likely be familiar with the name Lawrence Wheatley. Certainly among players and serious fans of straight - ahead jazz the name has reach legendary status in the nation’s capital. Although awareness of his work has yet to reach national and international levels it’s just a matter of time especially in today’s internet world. Virtuosic, compelling, and fiercely original might be just a few reasons why this broader recognition is sure to come about at some point in the future. <..>

Not only was Lawrence a great player but he also created a considerable body of original work that demonstrated his stature as a jazz composer of the highest order. Although his music has yet to be recorded and released commercially, Lawrence indeed scored it, and as he would say, ‘by hand, from scratch, with love’. <...>

On top of all of this Lawrence was a gentleman. He carried himself with a certain dignity, grace, and courtesy that is almost unheard of these days. And although at times he spoke very eloquently and even mysteriously he also had a great sense of humor and was not pretentious in the least.

Bard of Bebop: Lawrence P. Wheatley, RIP
Express Night Out
Christopher Porter


  1. Sad News. Mr. Wheatley was a mainstay in the community. The King Holiday jam at Blackburn Center won't be the same without him.

  2. As Mr. Wheatley use to say, May the Boogie but with you and the Bop too"

    Tracy - Flute


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