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Jake Feinberg Interviews Lamont Arthur – A Tucson Music Legend

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Born: Panama Canal Zone 1956

Hometown: Sierra Vista, AZ

Occupation: Career Musician, Organ/keyboards, Entertainer, Composer, Recording Artist, Studio Engineer

Experience: 40 years Self Taught

Lamont Arthur has been playing, composing and teaching jazz in Tucson for the last three decades. Born in Panama, the son of an army soldier, Lamont found himself growing up at Ft. Huachuca in Southern Arizona. At the age of 12 he became aware of his passion for music. He learned to play the Glockenspiel from his 6th grade music teacher Mrs. Smith.

He turned his musical attention to the Hammond B-3 organ and played in mixed-ethnic rock and country groups at places like the Blue Room and Carr Canyon Corral in Sierra Vista. By the late seventies he had moved to Tucson and began playing with groups like Street Pajama, Rapid Transit, Bloolyte, Bondavi and legendary blues-man Sam Taylor to name just a few. He began playing gigs at many of the clubs in Tucson; the Pirates Den, Fun Factory, Bobby McGee's, The Doubletree, Nino's, Gentle Ben's and Merlin's. The scene was very open and loose at that time and his ability to play the Hammond B-3 allowed him to crossover as well and play blues, reggae, latin and gospel.

His love for jazz music prompted him to take the jazz improvisation class at Pima Community College under the tutelage of sax man Mike Kuhn and he was asked to assist him with some of the more novice musicians. This, was the turning point for what would become his passion to be a mentor and a better jazz musician. Not only as a keyboardist but as a jazz scat vocalist as well..

For a 7 year stint ('93-2000) he played in a keyboard/guitar duo with Phil Davis named L.A.P.D. at Sakura Japanese Restaurant. They reached a cult status with their penchant for playing standards and uptempo barn-burners then turning things right around to play cumbias or R&B dance tunes. Legions of Tucson-ans flocked to Sakura for their performances.

During his career Lamont has tried to give back to the community through his gift of music. He has performed for the Tucson Jazz Society, the Oro Valley Jazz Festival, the Jazz Guild of Tucson, and the Rising Star Baptist Church.. He has collaborated with Tucson Jazz fixtures such as pianist Dan "Sly" Slipetsky, trumpeter Tony Frank, trombonist Rob Boone, bassist Elliot "Kirk" Kuykendal and drummer Gil Rodriguez. He has also been involved in many recording endeavors and has a gospel/Christian CD of all original songs on itunes entitled: "It's Time For Knowing".

Over the last several years he has been mentoring a stable of young musicians. One is currently enrolled at the Arizona Jazz Academy. Often he will get a student who is classically trained and Lamont puts it on himself to get them to "get off the sheet" and use their hearts and ears to bring out the music that dwells within them. He has also mentored many musicians within the church. Having not been mentored himself as a young music- ian he feels that being a mentor is a great way to give the younger musicians a head start and leave a continuing musical legacy especially for the future "serious jazz musicians".

Lamont had to move back to Sierra Vista to be closer to his mother. He has been an unsung hero in the Tucson Jazz Community and the JJA for 2012 would be a fitting way to acknowledge his humble persona and love of music.

Beyond the Music;

Jake