Archive for June, 2010

Summer Suite, Vol 1


It’s finally here. Summer. The season of lemonade, sunburns, bicycles, kiddie-pools, hot dogs and my favorite; ice cream. Oh how I love the ice cream. Häagen-Dazs has this flavor called Caramel Cone that I literally will run somebody over for. I’m not kidding, seriously. I will not hesitate. If it’s the last one, I’ll pull a Karate-Kid and sweep the leg. Buy it, and then ask for my mailing address. This will PROBABLY be the only time I’d make it public to a complete stranger. So good. So good. Here is the link again Yum.

Where was I? Oh yes, Summer. So, as I have mentioned earlier I have had this idea going through my head of an album consisting only of a piano and percussion. I know, it’s odd. I haven’t heard anything like it before either and I didn’t know if it would actually work. But, I thought I would at least give it some thought. In my close proximity lives a percussionist by the name of Jim Brock. His resume is only trumped by his beautiful spirit and ease of smile. To say he’s an artist of the percussion is a very grave understatement. I knew that if I wanted to execute this album idea, it had to be someone of Jim’s caliber. Someone that would think like Jim in a sense of allowing more space than noise. Of listening instead of speaking incoherently. Someone like Jim who would rather create a beautiful bed of sound rather than wait for those 2 or 3 seconds to through in a “lick” if you will. As you’ve probably already guessed, I stopped looking for someone like Jim, I humbly called and just asked.

We met on my birthday (March 26….I like ice cream, review previous paragraph if you need ideas) with neither of us knowing what to expect. We hadn’t rehearsed, hadn’t even talked about what we would do. I walked in feeling a wee bit of “oh crap-ness” what am I doing wasting everyone’s time, being that I hadn’t even written anything specifically for the occasion. Jim set up his entourage of noise makers while I sat at the piano and we just looked at each other. “Well” we both said without a word “now what?”.

What proceeded to take place is something that I thought could have happened, if two minds were of the same thought. And it did. I like space in my music, Jim likes space. I’d rather listen than talk (ask anyone who knows me and they’ll agree wholeheartedly). I played through a melody or two and then we decided let’s at least get something on tape (digitally speaking) and just go from there. We started with what are now tracks 2-10 on the EP. It starts with Jim creating sounds of the ocean with occasion birds (if you will) coming sparsely into the background. All percussion, all piano, nothing else. I then proceed to play exactly what in my mind was a release. A complete departure from Set on a Hill.

Before the recording, the only verbiage I gave to Jim was “Celebration”. Set on a Hill was recorded in a time of great struggle and hardship. That album sounds that way because it is exactly what I was dealing with then. With Summer Suite, Vol 1, it was time to rejoice, to celebrate new life. Not only in my life but also in knowing that my wife and I were (are) expecting our first child. This was a whole new chapter and I wanted to emulate such exuberance. If you notice, there are moments where you hear Jim clapping throughout the piece. Afterward, Jim told me the claps were that of rejoicing. He totally got it. I couldn’t have asked for a better fit.

So, here it is. Officially released today, June 21st the first day of Summer. I hope you enjoy it. It’s the first of a series that I intend to do, each volume being with a different artist, or perhaps just by myself at the black and whites. I’ll post the links below where it can be found. It’s only $3.99 as a download, or $5 for the actual disc. Stickers and t-shirts coming soon (if interest continues).

As always, thanks for reading. God bless.
chad

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Summer Suite, Vol 1 – Reviews New Age

How humbled I was to open an email containing the first official review of Summer Suite, Vol 1 by ReviewsNewAge.com. This EP was recorded entirely in improvised fashion, using only the piano and percussion. Not other sound effects, edits or ‘punch-ins’ were used in the recording. The only “additive” was the percussionist Jim Brock recording an additional pass to what he had already inked to add more color.

I think you will see that the fine people at Reviews New Age caught exactly what Jim & I were trying to do; explore, create and patiently await what happened around the next corner of every passage.

Summer Suite, Vol 1

Chad Lawson
Hillset Records
2010
31.3 minutes

One of the most pleasant surprises this year 2010 is released the second album by pianist Chad Lawson, Summer Suite, Vol 1. A work consisting of ten pieces improvised and recorded in situ, one extensive piece and nine more shorter, called suites. Summer Suite, Vol 1 is the first CD which will open a series of works inspired by each season and that Chad will be surrounded by great musicians to accompany his fascinating piano. For this first publication, Chad wanted to have the assistance of the excellent percussionist Jim Brock, whose percussion provides an amazing warmth to each piece, as well as inspiring to Chad with the delicate rhythm to improvise each of the ten themes of this album.

The opening theme, over six minutes, is titled “Heart of a Lion.” The Jim’s percussion opens the theme, waiting for the improvised melody that Chad will play at piano. A simply surprisingly melody from the beginning is powerful and energetic shows. Fast and subtle touches of piano join the rhythmic percussion of Jim. It is amazing how both artists understand perfectly, following an incredible conversation. An amazing start, Wow!.

The sound of the sea and some songs of birds introduced to “Summer Suite – I”, a piece calmer than the previous one, in which Jim’s percussion is almost non-existent, almost negligible, as few accompanies with furtive hit hat smooth and quiet piano chords that draws Chad. With a relaxing and hypnotic first part, the piece is accelerated, but not excessively so as not to break the perfect stillness and ambient created. An ideal track for rest or for contemplation of a beautiful sunset to the sea. Sublime!.

In contrast to previous tracks in “Summer Suite – II”, the piano opens the piece. The delicate piano and percussion music give life to an upbeat and warm surrounding to the listener, while Chad’s piano introduces the main melody of the song that opens the album. In this case, variations of “Heart Of A Lion” are intimate. One piece with an amazing sense of liberation!.

In “Summer Suite – III” can be distinguished in its inception the percussion Jim’s and some palms that accompany the piano. One piece at a life-giving a rhythm percussion and that joins a delicate piano. The second part shows a quiet melody, in which only the piano is the star, using a succeeded chords that convey a unique strength.

Again, the birds make a brief appearance in “Summer Suite – IV,” while Chad plays a continuous alternation of notes remains unchanged until the end and Jim makes a roll, almost negligible. In this case, the melody is haunting and hypnotic, and has no major variations. Jim’s percussion rarely appears, allowing this piece make in the listener a soothing and peaceful feeling of comfort.

“Summer Suite – V” shows a strong start and optimistic. With joy Chad and Jim played a happy tune and positive, which slowly is becoming sad with a final upset. A perfect piece for the rest!. I love it.

“Summer Suite – VI” is passionate, the melody that draws the piano in the beginning is formal and convincing, while Jim goes with soft touches of percussion. A perfect piece to enjoy the sight of a beautiful stage. Another of my favourites!.

“Summer Suite – VII” is synonymous with energy and strength. The melody is powerful, fast. A perfect union between percussion and strings that leave you breathless. The tandem of Jim and Chad is spectacular, both created in perfect harmony this interesting piece that bears some resemblance to the touch of George Winston. It is simply amazing!. My favourite without a doubt!. Wow!.

“Summer Suite – VIII” is the calm after the storm. A melody with a more relaxed and romantic. A track that calls for peace, where the percussion plays a minor role, appearing on a few occasions to make subtle roll for piano. A piece appropriate to enjoy pleasant company. Pure delicacy!.

“Summer Suite – IX” is brief but intense. With joy becomes a familiar and catchy melody that we heard before and which serves to conclude this wonderful and exciting work. Amazing end!.

Summer Suite, Vol 1 is just unbelievable. An improvised album that has a great freshness and where Jim’s percussion and piano Chad can understand, providing a perfect connection in each track. Again, Chad takes advantage of the wide range of possibilities that shows him the New Age style, without restrictions or limits, giving life to an incredible job, halfway between the Jazz and New Music. Fascinating and VERY highly recommended!