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Autumn Suite Reviewed

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

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Summer Suite, Vol 1 Review by Kathy Parsons

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