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Lounge Lizards

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Lounge Lizards

This article is about the jazz band. For the folk/country band, see The Austin Lounge Lizards.
The Lounge Lizards
Cover of The Lounge Lizards 1981 self-titled album
Background information
Origin New York City
Genres Jazz, punk jazz

The Lounge Lizards are a jazz group formed in 1978 by saxophonist John Lurie and his brother, pianist Evan Lurie. In American slang, a "lounge lizard" is typically depicted as a well-dressed man who frequents the establishments in which the rich gather with the intention of seducing a wealthy woman with his flattery and deceptive charm.[1]

Drawing on punk rock and no wave as much as jazz, The Lounge Lizards have since become respected for their creative and distinctive sound. In October of 1986, Robert Palmer of The New York Times wrote "the Lounge Lizards...have staked their claim to a musical territory that lies somewhere west of Charles Mingus and east of Bernard Hermann and made it their own."


The initial Lounge Lizards line-up consisted of John and Evan Lurie, guitarist Arto Lindsay, bassist Steve Piccolo, and percussionist Anton Fier. They recorded a self-titled album on EG Records records in 1981. The album included two Thelonious Monk covers, but as one critic noted, "the two aforementioned Monk covers seem a strange choice when you actually hear the band, which has more in common with sonic experimentalists like Ornette Coleman or Sun Ra." [2]

By the mid-1980s a new line-up included bassist Erik Sanko, trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, guitarist Marc Ribot, saxophonist Roy Nathanson, and percussionists Dougie Bowne and E.J. Rodriguez. This group recorded various live and studio albums, and showcased John Lurie's increasingly sophisticated and multi-layered compositions. [3]

In 1998 the band released The Queen of All Ears on John Lurie's Strange and Beautiful Music label, and had added Steven Bernstein, Michael Blake, Oren Bloedow, David Tronzo, Calvin Weston, and Billy Martin to its ranks. "The Lizards' music isn't jazz," said Fred Bouchard of JazzTimes, "but it is intelligent and rhythmically and harmonically interesting (it ain't rock either, in other words) and, despite the ultra-hip trappings, it has an almost innocent directness that can transcend stylistic prejudice." [4]

Recent years have found the Lounge Lizards less active. John Lurie has been increasingly occupied with painting,[5] while Evan has worked on The Backyardigans, a children's show that highlights multiple musical genres.



Studio albums

Title Release date
Lounge Lizards 1981
No Pain for Cakes 1987
Voice of Chunk 1988
Queen of all Ears 1998

Live albums

Title Release date
Live from the Drunken Boat 1983
Live 79-81 1985
Big Heart: Live in Tokyo 1986
Live in Berlin, Vol. 1 1993
Live in Berlin, Vol. 2 1993


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