Reviews

Autumn Suite, Vol 1 Reviewed – Kathy Parson, MainlyPiano.com

The ever “don’t stop until you drop and even then there’s still so much you can do” Kathy Parsons of MainlyPiano.com has reviewed Autumn Suite, Vol 1 (Troy Conn – Guitar & Chad Lawson – Piano). You can read the review below OR feel free to fancy your fingers to MainlyPiano.com <—-

Details of said recording will be appearing in the coming days. In the midst of a newborn at our home (healthy baby boy) we’re also closing on a house in a matter of days. I mean, if one is to go completely mad, why not do it all at once…right? Stay tuned. For the behind the scenes, not for the madness. Well.


Autumn Suite, Volume 1
Chad Lawson
2010 / Hillset Records
36.3 minutes

 

Autumn Suite, Volume 1 is the second in a series of improvisational duet albums from pianist Chad Lawson. This time, Lawson teamed up with guitarist Troy Conn. The EP is divided into three tracks that range from just under eight minutes to almost eighteen, and each is titled “Autumn Suite I II or III.” On their page on CD Baby, it states that they “steal the playbook from Evil Knievel and take every risk they could come across.” It would be fun to have more information about the process, but the two artists let the music speak for itself. I have to give Chad Lawson a lot of credit for not allowing himself to get too comfortable with the success of his award-winning “Set On a Hill,” which was more composed and melodic. Both Summer Suite and Autumn Suite are much edgier and more experimental, taking a chances and being in the moment with the music.

I LOVE “Autumn Suite I,” which begins with a Spanish/classical guitar-sounding intro by Troy Conn. He ends with a somewhat mysterious twist that Lawson picks up with a series of beautiful rolling broken chords on the piano. Lawson suggests a melody that continues in a Spanish style, and Conn develops it as Lawson accompanies him with a flowing piano. The interplay is achingly beautiful, and it’s simply amazing that this piece is an improvisation. “Autumn Suite II” begins with the piano, softly setting the tone and then introducing a single note pattern that the guitar picks up on. Lawson continues to improvise to this steady repeating note/rhythm. The pattern evolves into a repeated chord that both artists riff on, sometimes only varying the dynamics. As this very experimental piece goes along, the developmental changes are subtle and may be too repetitive for some ears. About 12 1/2 minutes into the piece, there is a muffled dialog in the background, but I can’t understand any of the words. Shortly after that, Lawson plays a series of slow chords and goes into a different direction with the piece as it becomes more rhythmic and upbeat, ending with slow chords as it fades out. “Autumn Suite III” begins with slow chords that create a very subdued mood. The first half of the improvisation continues in a gentle, soft-spoken style that is elegant and graceful. About halfway into the piece, Lawson injects a livelier beat with rolling chords as Conn picks out a melody on electric guitar. During the final minute, Lawson returns to his slow, lovely chords and fades out.

Autumn Suite, Volume 1 is a fascinating study of the creative dynamics between two artists as well as the amazing musicality that can result from this sort of collaboration. It is available from www.chadlawson.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby.

Kathy Parsons
MainlyPiano.com
11/13/10

Sometimes a recording comes along, accompanied by a description in a press release, setting a certain expectation in the mind of a reviewer. When I read that Summer Suite was, more or less, a series of live-in-the-studio improvisations between pianist Chad Lawson and percussionist Jim Brock, I was skeptical. I imagined the results would be either avant garde-ish noodling or just the opposite, i.e. mainstream tripe for which “vanilla” would be an exaggeration. I was, unexpectedly, thoroughly surprised and summarily delighted with this wonderful maxi-EP (32 minutes) when I played it the first time. Here was music that was both adventurous and intriguing, challenging the listener to “keep up” yet wholly listenable as mere entertainment. This being Lawson’s CD more than Brock (although the latter’s contributions cannot be over-stated), the real tip of the hat needs to go to Lawson, whose playing is all over the map in the best possible sense, with changes in mood, time signature, tempo, intensity and style flying by at a virtuoso’s pace.

The CD opens with the only “titled” track, the energetic Heart of a Lion, a speedfest of melody and rhythm that will get your blood racing if you are fan of fast tempo piano playing. The actual “Summer Suite” (comprised of nine tracks featuring running times from 4:02 to 1:14) follows, unfolding like a multi-colored flower unfurling its pedals to the sun. Part I offers a reflective, impressionistic piece which is sans percussion for the most part. Each successive part of the “Suite” flows into the next uninterrupted (the transitions are sonically invisible, though, so leap-frogging over successive tracks will not prove jarring). Part II picks up the pace, but only at times, with a more pronounced sprinkling of percussion, such as hand drums (I think I hear a djembe) and cymbals. Note that since this is a non-overdub recording, and there is only the one percussionist, you will not hear three types of percussion at once. Knowing this ahead of hearing it, I suspected the singular percussion would not prove “interesting” enough, but I was dead wrong. Brock always grabs just the right instrument to color Lawson’s lead melodies with an entertaining wrinkle, a helping of drama and impetus, or a flavorful embellishment. While I tend to toss around the term “simpatico” in my duo/ensemble recording reviews, when you take into account the improvised nature of Summer Suite, you can’t help but be mighty impressed at how the two artists never “step on each other.” When I read on Lawson’s website that the two had never previously played together at all, I was even more blown away at what the two had wrought on this recording.

As you listen to the other parts of “Summer Suite,” you should be able to discern the over-riding musical theme that Lawson has woven into the tracks, a theme which helps unify the recording as a cohesive whole, not just a bundle of separate, albeit like-minded, pieces. Whether one favors the subtle melancholy of Part VI, the wistful introspection of Part IV, or the upbeat cheer on the closing Part IX, Summer Suite is an enchanting listening experience. It was a smart move to have the tracks meld into one another, and the 32 minute duration seems to fly by in an instant, which is a true testament to just how good the music actually is.

Chad Lawson plans on releasing three more “seasonal” recordings, teaming with a different accompanist for each one. I am eager to hear what this promising and talented pianist has in store for “autumn,” “winter” and “spring.” I’ve never been a fan of all four seasons (living in Minnesota), but I may have to change my mind in that regard!

Rating: Excellent Excellent
– reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 10/8/2010

If anyone has listened to more solo piano albums than you, I’d place a $20 dollar bill on it being Kathy Parsons of MainlyPiano.com (with the exception of David Nevue, Whisperings Solo Piano Radio.  I’d still give him a $20 if he asked for it.  But knowing him, he’s far too polite to ask).    Her site MainlyPiano.com has become the home of every pianist and she has been a cavalier in spreading the gospel of beautiful music from the 4 corners of the globe.  I couldn’t be more honored when I read her words about the Summer Suite, Vol 1 EP.  Please visit MainlyPiano.com and drop her a friendly “Hello & thank you” for a job exceedingly well done.  I’m sure she’d love to hear from you.

Summer Suite, Volume 1


Chad Lawson
Hillset Records
31.3 minutes

It’s always interesting to discover things in our own and other people’s lives that were  simply meant to be. One such occurrence appears to be the making of Chad Lawson’s new release, Summer Suite, Volume 1. On Chad’s birthday in late March, he had a call from a friend who wanted to test a new local recording studio and asked if he was interested in coming along to play. Chad had been thinking about doing an album with solo piano and percussion, so he called percussionist Jim Brock about doing a trial run to see if they could make it work. The two artists hadn’t played together in this format, so they basically turned on the recorder and “went for it.” They played through an idea for the main theme and then improvised from there. “Summer Suite” is a continuous 25-minute improvisation and the only edit/overdub is where Jim Brock went back and recorded one additional track to color what he had done previously in the Suite. There are nine tracks designated in the Suite (plus a separate piece at the beginning of the album), but there are no stops between the tracks – the implied divisions are simply there to make navigation easier to find specific parts of the piece. Summer Suite is quite different from Chad’s award-winning Set On A Hill in that it is more jazz-oriented and free. Chad is so pleased with the results that he plans to do a series of albums featuring himself with various other artists – a very exciting proposition! What is not different from Set On a Hill is that this is music that is meant to be listened to, not relegated to background music. The music is more than enjoyable, but it is also amazing to realize that it just poured out of two artists with very little preparation.

The album begins with “Heart of a Lion,” a joyous, uptempo piece that mixes dancing piano fingers with infectious rhythms. Chad Lawson is absolutely brilliant on this one! The next nine “tracks” make up “Summer Suite,” and, as I said, there are no breaks between the tracks. The music ranges from quiet and reflective to energetic and complex – sometimes melodic, sometimes repetitive, always interesting and inspiring. Percussion includes hand claps, ocean sounds, and many other instruments that enhance the piano rather than taking center stage.

It is my humble opinion that Chad Lawson’s little musical experiment succeeded incredibly well! He is asking an exceptionally reasonable price for this EP and download, so check it out! It is currently available from Amazon, CD  Baby and iTunes. Recommended!

Kathy Parsons

MainlyPiano.com

6/14/10

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Dog Ears Music: Volume Eighty-Four by

Phil Ramone and Danielle Evin

I was honored to find a write up about Set on a Hill by legendary producer Phil Ramone and incredibly gifted singer/composer Danielle Evin. Some very kind words from some people who shape the world of music. I’m very fortunate. Thank you both very much.

Set on a Hill

Set on a Hill

Gifted jazz pianist Chad Lawson was born in North Carolina in the mid-’70s. As a young man in Charlotte, he learned jazz-piano tradition under the wing of Don Brown (Jazz Messengers) and founded the Chad Lawson Trio. After cutting some vinyl and hitting the top 10 on the jazz charts, Lawson relocated to New York, where he studied with piano maestro Hal Galper (Chet Baker, Stan Getz). On the heels of dues paying with local bands and a world tour with Julio Iglesias, Lawson went back into the studio with a fresh batch of songs. Among his credits are film and TV work, including a track for Dawson’s Creek. The title “Promises Made on Signal Mountain,” from Lawson’s 2009 release Set on a Hill, produced by luminary William Ackerman, is a lullaby that swells with intricate elegance.


– I am officially international! This is a review from reviewsnewage.com from Spain.  Brush up on your Spanish! –

Reviews New Age April 20, 2010

My Rating: 54321

Set On A Hill es el álbum de debut del pianista Chad Lawson; el mundo de la música no es nada nuevo para él. Chad es componente de un grupo de Jazz y ha compuesto algunas bandas sonoras para televisión además de haber girado como teclista de Julio Iglesias.

Fue durante un concierto con Julio Iglesias cuando Chad pensó en componer, grabar y publicar su propia música de solos de piano, aquello que siempre quiso hacer. Con una técnica dulce y relajante, ha compuesto este álbum para una escucha introspectiva, para momentos de tranquilidad, y que de esta manera podremos disfrutar. Un detalle a tener en cuenta es que Set On A Hill ha sido producido por Will Ackerman, lo que ya es una buena escusa para escucharlo.
“Will” es el tema que abre el CD, una pieza tranquila, que comienza con el repique de una nota y lo acompaña una tierna melodía de notas altas; una pieza de más de 9 minutos pero que en ningún momento disgusta. Da la sensación de ser una improvisación, elaborada en ese mismo momento y acompañando a un pensamiento o recuerdo vivido por el autor. Es un tema lento, que invita a reflexionar, aunque momentos antes de su final, la melodía se acelera por unos instantes para dar paso al toque tierno del comienzo. Fantástica!.

“Sojourn” comienza con un toque continuado de acordes alegres y una emocionante melodía. La mano izquierda marca los acordes con un ritmo repetitivo mientras la mano derecha dibuja una dulce armonía llena de ternura que poco a poco le procura un sentimiento emocionante. Muy tierna!.

“Promise Made on Signal Mountain”, al igual que el tema que abre al álbum, este tema es una pieza tranquila, llena de ternura y belleza que aporta tranquilidad. Es la segunda pieza más extensa del álbum; una pieza idónea para un momento de relax.

“Change of Seasons”, comienza con una melodía suave marcada por la mano izquierda y que, posteriormente le sigue un melancólico baile, triste y lento de la mano derecha. Una pieza introspectiva que refleja, como ya marca el título, el cambio de las estaciones. Posiblemente el paso al invierno.

“Set On A Hill” es el tema que da nombre al álbum y que comienza con un ritmo suave y alegre, es un ritmo que se repite durante todo el tema. La pieza es optimista, aportando sensación de libertad y positivismo al oyente, un tema apto para momentos de evasión. Wow!.

“Reflections” da paso a momentos de sosiego, una pieza melancólica y lenta que invita, como bien dice su titulo, a la reflexión, a pensar. Apta para momentos de intimidad y soledad junto a nuestros pensamientos.

“She Walks in Beauty” es quizás la pieza más romántica del álbum, pues es el tema creado por Chad para el día de su boda. Una pieza intima, que invita a la contemplación y al disfrute de la propia belleza; un tema tranquilo. Un verdadero regalo!.

“Passing Country” es un tema lento pero con un claro y marcado tempo, a una melodía continua en la parta baja del teclado le acompañada una sinfonía tierna que dibuja en un viaje, hermosos paisajes a su paso. La libertad es la principal emoción que ofrece esta pieza y concluye con un leve suspiro. Impresionante!.

“Goldfish Named George” es una pieza alegre que en ciertos momentos capta la atención del oyente con rasgueos de un acorde como si de pequeños jugueteos de un pez se tratase, mientras que la mano izquierda traza una melodía que marca el nado continuado.
Set On A Hill ha sido nombrado como mejor Álbum del Año 2009 por Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio. Es un álbum muy recomendable que ofrece optimismo y paz; idóneo para momentos en soledad.

reviewsnewage.com
01/04/10

Set on a Hill

Set on a Hill

Review from Piano-Heaven by Stephen Cairns

It’s the first, and I must say it certainly sets a precedent! I’m very excited to announce the the first review for Set on a Hill was recently posted on Piano-Heaven‘s website (click the name to go to the link if you would like). Mr. Cairns has a beautiful way worth words, and a scary sense of perception of one’s music. Uncanny even. So, I could not have been in a more respectable set of hands for my first review. It’s posted below. Please visit Piano-Heaven and let them know how much you appreciate their support for solo piano music. There are so many wonderful artist and this is definitely a wonderful place to find them!

To the casual browser in a music store, the cover to ‘Set on a Hill’ by Chad Lawson might suggest a blues album could be contained within. Certainly, the image of the composer surrounded by traffic in the middle of a busy American street (with not a hill in sight) offers little hint to the serenity of the music to be found on this wonderful gem of a CD.

Produced by renowned Windham Hill founder Will Ackerman- ensuring first class production values- the omens looked good from the onset. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the variety and consistent high standard found throughout this CD.

It opens with ‘Will’. One might assume this is dedicated to the producer of the album as it is clear that Chad Lawson holds the music-maestro in high esteem. However, the title actually refers to an individual’s will- that is, what it is inside each and everyone of us that controls what we do and do not do. It is very much up to the individual listener to conjure up their own images for this piece, but I was struck by the slow tempo maintained for the first six minutes. Could this be the reflective side in each of us that consciously or subconsciously considers past experiences to guide our future paths? Minimalist in style, this piece is incredibly relaxing. At six minutes, the tempo changes and I love the flurry of notes that suggests spontaneity- living for the moment. The piece soon returns to its gentler original form. I adore this track, and am impressed by the unhurried way in which the story unfolds. The piece lasts approximately nine minutes, giving the composer time to tell the story and the listener the opportunity to immerse themselves in the music.

‘Sojurn’ is more upbeat. Reminding me a little of the style of Wayne Gratz, the track is a melodic treat from start to finish. This was one of the first pieces the composer wrote when he decided to record the album- the start of an incredible musical journey.

The story behind Track 3, ‘Promise Made on Signal Mountain’ is as touching as the music itself. The composer met his wife’s Grandfather only once before his passing- at their home at the foot of Signal Mountain in Tennessee. Together, the two sat by the fire where the elderly gentleman asked only one thing of Chad; that he take good care of his grand-daughter- something he was only too pleased to do. Chad’s wife, Barbara, and her grandfather enjoyed an exceptionally close relationship, and to this day he regards it as an honour that he was accepted into the family. Chad explains how his wife’s grandmother (known as Grams) is beautiful, generous and very alert, and that each time he sees her, he is reminded of the promise made that evening. This composition is especially beautiful and somehow manages to do justice to that special moment. This is my favourite track on a CD packed with highlights.

‘Change of Season’ is a track that nearly never was! The composer played around with the piece on a number of occasions, feeling that it was ‘out of place’ on the album. Eventually, he hit upon a version that more suited the tranquil nature of the CD, and ironically perhaps, it remains one of many highlights after repeated listens! It’s a curious track. From the onset, it seems to tell a story, asking lots of questions along the way. It’s engaging, relaxing and perfect chill-out material.

‘Set on a Hill’ is a thought-provoking piece, sometimes moody, sometimes uplifting, hinting perhaps of other musical genres. As the composer himself explains, “Set on a Hill was never intended to be the album’s title, but after hitting the last note, I knew it encompassed exactly what I wanted to say with this project.” It is one of those pieces where the listener should pour themselves their favourite drink, sit back and let the music do its work.

Track 6, ‘Reflections’ is regarded by the composer to be the least improvised piece of the entire album, expressing a wish for the finished product to be “clean in its presentation”. The end result is a short, delightful and simple melody; another most pleasing piece to the ear.

‘She Walks in Beauty (The Wedding Song)’, as the title would suggest, is the piece to which Chad’s then to-be wife walked down the aisle. This composition is every bit as gorgeous and touching as the special moment which it represented. Chad regards it as an honour to have written all the music for the wedding of Barbara and himself, and reveals that the original form of the composition included the accompaniment of a violin. He intends to release this version later in the year.

The penultimate track of the CD is entitled ‘Passing Country’ and was inspired by the breathtaking scenery that Chad witnessed as he travelled through Spain at night. “It was such a beautiful drive,” reminisces Chad, and the fond memories of that evening are reflected in this gentle and heavenly composition.

‘A Goldfish Named George’ is a title that will not grace too many CD track lists, but here it is closing this outstanding album. I thought at first the composer was dedicating the final piece to a beloved pet, but this is not the case! In fact, Chad was apparently watching an old Audrey Hepburn film (the title of which he is keeping close to his chest) and, in a slightly surreal moment, imagined George the Goldfish falling in love with another goldfish. Chad puts this, er, original thought down to his British humour- “I have a silly personality!” As a British person myself, I agree this is entirely plausible, or alternatively, it might have something to do with what is on the table on the back cover!!! Either way, it is fun way to close a remarkable CD, with little flourishes capturing the fish’s more energetic moments.

I mentioned earlier about the impressive variety within the CD, whilst still maintaining an impeccably high standard throughout and never deviating from a relaxing and rewarding listening experience. This is reflected in the number of composers that spring to mind when listening to this CD. Ludovico Einaudi, Wayne Gratz, Michael Gettel, Stephan Moccio and Michael Jones are just some of the stellar artists that spring to mind. Chad Lawson is in great company.

It is hoped to conduct a Piano-Heaven interview with Chad over the Summer. His story reminds me of Stephan Moccio’s, who has written music for many top-name artists, including Céline Dion, but felt a calling to perhaps get back to his roots and release his own album. Chad has toured the world with Julio Iglesias, and is part of a very successful jazz-band, but he too has felt a calling. From the listener’s perspective, this is a very good thing, as Chad Lawson has an undisputed gift with the piano, and has created a stunning album from start to finish. No wonder it has been nominated for Whisperings’ ‘Album of the Year’.

Chad’s sense of humour comes through clearly in his Biographical notes on his web-site. Perhaps, on reflection, I have been reading too much into the album’s cover….

I cannot praise this CD highly enough. Any fan of relaxing, melodic piano music should love this album. I give ‘Set on a Hill’ my highest recommendation. “This is some of the best music I’ve heard in years,” proclaims Will Ackerman.

It is hard to disagree.

S.C.

Reviewed from Mainly Piano by Michael Debbage

Chad Lawson will be a new name for many, however the pure quality and sincerity of this very peaceful and impressive debut may change all that in a heartbeat should listeners be patient to explore this remarkable pianist and composer. Produced by Will Ackerman, this is not the typical Ackerman production. There is Ackerman, engineer Corin Nelsen, Chad and his piano and over 48 minutes of delightful piano playing that will allow you to breathe and find peace in this hectic fast pace world that we live in.

Apparently Lawson’s background has included touring with Julio Iglesias, leading a jazz trio and even has involved him in other media outlets such as the soundtrack for the 2008 movie Dough Boys. However, Set On A Hill is something completely different and this is made obviously clear with Lawson’s opening nine minute epic “Will”. Though this move is commercial suicide, at the same time it is a daring and bold statement that completely works. The composition is moody, thought provoking and downright inspiring. Lawson’s stroke and touch is gorgeous and as a patient listener you will be fully rewarded to hear one of the best pure piano instrumentals heard in a long time. Equally as stirring but more direct is the shorter “Sojourn” and after the colossal “Will” it is perfectly sequenced.

After that there is nearly 35 minutes left of magical music with absolutely no filler. There is the more rhythmic “Set On A Hill” that will have you gently swaying back and forth. It has a slight majestic feel to it that would be fit to be played for a King. Speaking of royalty, Lawson gets personal and shares with his audience the song he wrote for his Queen courtesy of “She Walks In Beauty (The Wedding Song)”. One can only imagine his beloved purposefully and gracefully walking down the aisle in a beautiful flowing white gown ready to exchange eternal vows of lifetime commitment of love and honor before family and friends. In complete contrast, Lawson closes the album out with the playful “A Goldfish Named George”.

Chad’s intentions on this album are best summed up in his own words. He stated that “From the first note of the album, I wanted it to be one’s avenue to just breathe…to exhale. The album doesn’t “grab” you from the first note because we have enough things grab us as it is. So, I simply wanted to start with an invitation to peace.” Chad Lawson has been completely successful with this mission statement from start to finish. Simply put Set On A Hill is a quiet beauty that given the right exposure should make quite a few top lists for the year 2009.

Review from Mainly Piano by Kathy Parsons

Set On a Hill is Chad Lawson’s debut solo piano CD, but Chad is no newcomer to the music industry. A session and back-up musician as well as the lead in his own jazz trio, he has scored film and television soundtracks and has toured the world with Julio Iglesias. It was during a concert with Iglesias that Lawson had the epiphany that he needed to get back to writing his own music and to making the solo piano CD he had always wanted to do. Many pianist/composers are content with composing music that will ultimately end up as background or mood music, but Chad Lawson’s music, while gentle and laid-back, was composed for more focused listening. Don’t get me wrong – this is wonderful music for the quiet moments in life whether alone or shared – but do yourself a favor and take some time to listen to this CD with closed eyes and no distractions. Produced by the legendary Will Ackerman, this is one of the few piano CDs he has done that is strictly solo piano. The open spaces are almost as important as the notes in Lawson’s music, and I can’t imagine any of these nine pieces as anything but solo piano.

 

Set On a Hill begins with “Will,” an open, roomy piece that starts with a single repeated note that evolves into a simple melody played with one hand in the treble clef. That melodic theme recurs throughout the piece in a kind of theme and variations form that is completely unbound by rules or requirements. It develops slowly and organically, and I suspect is mostly improvised. It’s a gentle and subtle invitation to settle down and listen to some extraordinary music. “Sojourn” conveys a quiet sense of anticipation and optimism with a rhythmic left hand and flowing melody. My favorite track on this excellent album is “Change of Season,” a moody minor-key piece that expresses melancholy, solitude, loneliness, reflection, and maybe acceptance near the end. This one makes my fingers ache! Sheet music??? The title track has a very graceful, lyrical feel and a sense of warm contentment. “She Walks in Beauty (The Wedding Song)” is the music Lawson composed for his wedding. Serious without any hint of heaviness, it is composed in an elegant, minimalistic style that must have been stunning in a wedding setting. The whimsically-titled “A Goldfish Named George” depicts the changing pace of fish swimming and how hypnotic it can be to watch them. It’s a gorgeous piece that leaves the listener wanting more.

 

Set On a Hill is generating a lot of buzz, and has already been nominated as Album of the Year by Whisperings Solo Piano Radio, so check it out for yourself. It is available from www.chadlawson.com, Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes. Very highly recommended!

 

Kathy Parsons

MainlyPiano.com



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    • beth
    • June 14th, 2010

    dude i would love to purchase this interesting recording//how do i do it…let me know…i love that you have a little baby in its mommy’s tummy..half you and your lovely wife AND dna from all the family!! I think of that when I babysit my grandkids..I hear their funny stories and movements and see a little of me in there..(DNA… JUST
    LOVE CONNECTION)oh so precious..you’re gonna be a wonderful daddy
    much LOve
    Beth

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