Jazz drummer Lawrence Leathers dies age 37


The world jazz is reeling from the news released two days ago that Grammy-winning drummer, Lawrence Leathers has died. Leathers’ death is appears to be a homicide.

Leathers’ death is tragic for his relative youth, his immense talent and what he has already contributed to jazz. Even for those who might not recognize his name, if they are fans of jazz, and have listened to contemporary recordings, it is likely that they have heard Leathers’ work.

According to ABC News and other outlets, Leathers was found unconscious in a Bronx, New York stairwell. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

From all accounts, it seems that Leathers’ girlfriend, Lisa Harris and her boyfriend, Sterling Aguilar, attacked the musician before he passed away. Allegedly, Aguilar held Leathers in a chokehold and allowed Harris to punch him before leaving Leathers in the stairwell.

Leathers’ family has declined to speak about his death, only to say that a funeral is being planned. A GoFundMe page has been created to cover the musicians’ funeral costs.

Lawrence Leathers: A life cut short

Leathers’ legacy should not be defined by this tragedy. The drummer was an integral part of the Aaron Diehl Trio. As part of that ensemble, Leathers added his swinging, crisp style (with the rest of the trio) to the soundscape of albums by new jazz vocal phenom, Cecile McLorin Salvant. Leathers can be heard on “For One to Love” (2015) and “Dreams and Daggers” (2017). Salvant earned Grammys for both recordings. Leathers also served as a guest drummer on Harry Connick Jr.’s show, “Harry,” “The Root” reports.

Leathers was a Michigan native who made his way to New York by way of Julliard. He studied at the University of Michigan prior to attending the legendary institution.

On Thursday, The Lansing State Journal reported that charges for Harris and Aguilar have changed from assault to manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

While investigators continue to piece together the details of Leathers’ demise, fans and colleagues mourn the man and the music he made that ushered in a new era of straightforward jazz.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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