Chad Lawson
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Chad Lawson


Band Classical New Age


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"Piano-Heaven Award Winner"

Oh that Chad Lawson is such a mischievous fellow! Never have two albums had such contrasting covers. Chad's previous solo-piano CD, the much lauded ‘Set on a Hill’ (Piano-Heaven award-winner from 2009) featured Chad in a Kamikaze-style position on a busy New York street. The cover offered little in the way of clues as to the sublime music that was to reveal itself in that wonderful album. So, when I caught my first sight of the beautiful fells (looking suspiciously like an image from my part of the world- The Lake District) gracing the sleeve of Chad's latest CD, ‘The Piano’, I immediately realised the little irony of how the latest album is indeed set on a hill, but was initially unsure as to what to expect, given Chad's renowned sense of humour. Heavy-duty jazz, perhaps? Any lingering doubts were, however, soon allayed the moment the first graceful notes starting playing from my speakers.

The first track on this excellent album became a favourite from my very first listen. Chad studied Classical piano all the way through high-school, so perhaps it is no surprise that he pays homage to various greats on this album, beginning with Johann Sebastian Bach. ‘Preludium in C Major’ delivers a gorgeous opening to the CD. The clarity of the notes is as pure as the country air, and the crystal-clear sound resonating from the piano is testament to the top-notch recording facilities at Joe Bongiorno's ‘Piano-Haven’ recording studio (more details here). The piece is incredibly beautiful and highly melodic.

‘Nocturne in A-Minor’ is a tribute to the great work of Chopin. Fans of Ludovico Einaudi will adore this piece, with its gentle opening; the piece unfurling like a pure wildflower fluttering in the Spring breeze, as a passing couple enjoy their romantic stroll. Around three minutes into the piece, the tempo slows almost to a halt- a stolen kiss perhaps, where time momentarily stands still, before a flurry of notes as pulses are set a-racing. And what an exquisite ending- perfection with the ivories as far as this reviewer is concerned.

‘I wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ is an obvious reference to the great writer William Wordsworth, who described in verse scenes just minutes away from where I type this review. As I listen to the uplifting, inspiring melody which ensues, I can visualise the golden daffodils dancing in the refreshing breeze. Note-perfect, Chad's third track is as graceful as they come.

‘Rest Now Weary Soul’ is a tribute to the late, great Amy Winehouse, who died in 2011 at a tragically young age. Melancholy, and yet achingly beautiful, I am sure the singer would approve. Chad captures the vocal prowess of Amy through his touching and tender choice of notes- a complete contrast in musical styles, but with the common bond of talent. Chad, intentionally or otherwise, also manages to convey a sense of waste- this stunning singer had her life ahead of her, and perhaps her best was yet to come.

The opening bars of the album's fifth track, ‘Dance You Pretty’, put me in festive mode for a moment, as they reminded me of ‘The First Noel’. However, that soon changed as the piece got going, developing into another melodic masterpiece. As I listen, I visualise a young ballerina gracefully moving across the stage, with delicate jumps, and angelic twists and turns.

It's Pyotr Tchaikovsky's turn in track six, with ‘Swan Lake’, but this is very much Chad's own composition. Relaxing and unrushed- this is perfect chill-out music. Spa owners take note! This particular swan is in no hurry, as it effortlessly glides along the crystal-clear water, ripples gently resonating from its side, as Earth's greatest gift sparkles like a thousand jewels in the Summer sun.

Chopin is the inspiration behind the album's seventh track, the very lovely ‘Ballade in C-Minor’. It is very classical in form and yet still highly accessible. As with ‘Set on a Hill’, Chad Lawson delivers the goods time after time, with remarkable consistency throughout the album, and this track is certainly no exception.

‘As Only Yesterday’ is more New-Age in form, and fans of David Lanz will doubtless enjoy this one. Melodic, with flourishes of notes, Chad is in quite playful mood here. A great piece.

‘Goodnight Daniel’ has a lullaby-style feel to it in parts. Soporific is the key word here- and the listener should allow themselves to drift away into their dreams. As Chad himself explains, "Goodnight, Daniel was written as my wife and I were expecting our first child. The song was written before he was born, prior to the first sonogram. Once we found out it was a boy and chose his name, I originally called it Daniel's Theme, but after hearing it on the album, it just made sense to call it Goodnight, Daniel, since it's such a lullaby." I am sure Daniel has had sweet dreams as a result of listening to his father's lovely composition.

The album closes with ‘My Romance’. Reflective, gorgeous, and the perfect way to close out the album.

Chad Lawson has delivered the goods once again. This is a wonderful, relaxing CD that will appeal to anyone who enjoys solo-piano music. Pour the wine, sit back and relax, and enjoy the music from the modern-day great that is Chad Lawson.

S.C. - Stephen Cairns

"1st International Pianist Series, Aranda de Duero, Spain"

On October 20, 2011, Music for the Bunker had the privilege of attending the beautiful city of Aranda de Duero (Burgos), where both the same day as 22 I held the International Exhibition of Piano. In it, none other than Chad Lawson, Suzanne Ciani, Mario Lopez, Rocky Fretz and Will Ackerman (as special guest) took delight all lovers of classical music, contemporary New Age that moved there.

Chad Lawson (official pianist Kawai, and Best Album of the Year 2009 by Whisperings), along with Suzanne Ciani (pioneer in the field of electronic music, Best New Age Album by Independent Music Awards and Golden Globe winner ), were responsible for carrying out the first part of this show, while Mario Lopez would (nominated for Best Album 2009-10 in Spain, USA and Germany Reviews New Age), Rocky Fretz (winner for Best New Age Album 2009 by Independent Music Awards) and Will Ackerman (Grammy Award winner and founder of the prestigious Windham Hill Records label), who star in the second, 22 this month.

Chad Lawson,
recognized artist who has traveled half the world along with Julio Iglesias as principal pianist, has also in his film career, Doughboys, with Louis Lombardi (The Sopranos, "Edgar" 24) and Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos). It is not the first time Chad treads Spanish soil. During a successful tour of our country by the hand of the famous Julio Iglesias, came to sell ten thousand entries. Since that time, Lawson was able to establish that it was time to return to its true essence: the creation of relaxing music, sweet, full of feeling and strength. Thus, we find a great artist who knows exactly how enchanted with each note and each topic to your audience. - Irene Sanz

"Jazziz Magazine"


MGM's The Wizard of Oz was barely a commercial success after it's release in 1939,but countless TV airings have since made it America's most beloved children's musical. Chad Lawson is a talented 26-year old pianist who originally conceived this instrumental Oz interpretation as a Christmas gift to his mother. On Dear Dorothy, Lawson and his trio rework 10 of Harold Arlen's melodies and add two like-minded originals. The result is modern straight-ahead jazz that's cleverly arranged and intimately rendered.
A graduate of the Berklee College of Music and a native of North Carolina, Lawson has a lyrical touch that occasionally resembles Bill Evans and Vince Guaraldi. Lawson shares an easy rapport with Zack Page (bass) and Alfred Sergel (drums), who lay down a crisp rhythmic foundation for the pianist's imaginative styling. Dear Dorothy retains the strong melodic essence of Arlen's score, but with sophisticated re-harmonizations and shifting tempos. A couple of tracks seem overly solemn, but most are warm and pleasant. As the trio strives for an accessible mainstream sound, they deliberately keep improvisations to a minimum. And the playing is subtly intense throughout.
The song sequence mainly parallels the movie, beginning with the ever popular "Over the Rainbow." Highlights include a shifty drum-propelled Take on "Yellow Brick Road/See the Wizard," a fun Cuban-flavored version of "Merry Ole Land of Oz," and Lawson's two surprising originals. His composition "Dear Dorothy" is a simple yet whimsical melody, while "Are We There Yet?" depicts a plodding, wearisome hike by way of a lurching blues attack.
Familiarity with the tunes should be a big selling point for Dear Dorothy, especially during these trying times when Americans venerate courage, reason, and individuality -- values enchantingly reinforced by The Wizard of Oz.

- Ed Koop


The future isn’t always as bleak as it so often appears. Amid the welter of rubbish that passes for music these days one can occasionally discern a refreshing ray of sunshine. Here’s one — music from MGM’s film classic The Wizard of Oz, handsomely arranged and marvelously played by three talented young musicians from North Carolina. The idea for the album, says leader / pianist Chad Lawson, came to him while visiting a friend’s house whose daughter was watching the film on television. “I honestly [hadn’t] realized how much music was contained in [the film],” he recalls. “I picked up the soundtrack, noticed how many songs were listed, and it was . . . absolutely perfect.”

Lawson conveyed his enthusiasm to the others in his trio — bassist Zack Page, drummer Alfred Sergel — booked a studio and set about recording Dear Dorothy: The Oz Sessions. All the usual suspects are here — “Over the Rainbow,” “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead,” “If I Only Had a Brain,” “The Merry Old Land of Oz” and so on — with a few other pleasant surprises including two of Lawson’s perceptive compositions, “Dear Dorothy,” “Are We There Yet?” and one number, “The Jitterbug,” that was recorded and filmed but dropped before the movie opened. The plan, says Lawson was “to ‘try to tell the story without the visuals’,” something the trio does quite well. Of course, the story itself is so firmly embedded in the collective memory of most Americans, as is the wonderful score by Harold Arlen (music) and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg (lyrics), that putting them together in the mind’s eye is almost second nature.

What is most persuasive about the album is the way in which the trio has reinvigorated the music, in a sense repaving the “yellow brick road” with bright arrangements and innovative rhythmic and harmonic variations. Imparting a fresh point of view to something as well-known and well-loved as The Wizard of Oz is a lot to ask of musicians as young and unseasoned as these, but the trio accomplishes the improbable, and The Oz Sessions are as radiant as Dorothy’s ruby slippers and as enchanting as the storybook land for which they are named.

- Jack Bowers

"All Music Guide"

oviegoers, TV watchers, and jazz musicians more than The Wizard of Oz. The music and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen were used for the first time in films as entire scenes by themselves, sewing the story together and making this the first integrated movie musical. There are various ways to approach this music, mostly legitimate: For example, play it as written (which ain't all that bad given its quality), or try to add some new ideas and interpretations to the score. Chad Lawson and his trio take a tack similar to the one Vince Guaraldi chose in his seminal recording of A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Like Guaraldi, Lawson and his piano trio are not constrained to follow any predetermined script in their interpretation of this ageless music. One might dub their approach as modern, creative swing. Listen, for example, to the take of "Merry Ole Land of Oz," which is not nearly the same as one has heard previously. Rather, it gets dressed up in modern clothes, with Alfred Sergel's drums playing a large role in keeping the music rolling down the path chosen by Lawson. On the other end of the spectrum, "Yellow Brick Road" is done as a bouncing gavotte. Lawson chooses to present "Over the Rainbow" just as it was intended to be -- a song of wonderment, what it would be like to fly beyond the stars to a new magical land. And that's the key that makes this album so engaging. No matter how much Lawson applies modern ideas and concepts to the music, the whimsy and the wonderment of those who watched and continue to watch this masterpiece are never discarded. Recommended. - Dave Nathan

"Huffington Post"

Dog Ears Music: Volume Eighty-Four by
Phil Ramone and Danielle Evin

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. - Dog Ears Music: Volume Eighty-Four by Phil Ramone and Danielle Evin


-The Piano, (Hillset Records) 2011

-Autumn Suite, Vol 1 (Hillset Records) 2010

-Summer Suite, Vol 1 (Hillset Records) 2010 - Nominated for album of the year in Spain 2010

-Set On a Hill (Hillset Records) 2009 - Album of the Year

-Unforeseen (Summit Records) 2004

-Dear Dorothy: the Oz Sessions (Summit
Records) 2002



Album of the Year - 2011
The Piano

Album of the Year - Whisperings Solo Piano Radio 2009 (over 1 million listeners each month)

Dog Ears Music: Volume Eighty-Four by
Phil Ramone and Danielle Evin

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."

Chad Lawson is just about the polar opposite of every other solo pianist out there. He has toured the world with Julio Iglesias, is an official Kawai performing artist, was nominated for “Album of the Year” on Whisperings Solo Piano Radio and has scored several films. His most recent film is Doughboys, featuring Louis Lombardi (The Sopranos, ‘Edgar’ from 24) and Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos). Lawson also recently scored a TV pilot—details which, for now anyway—are under wraps.

Earlier, Lawson’s trio recorded two wildly-successful albums for Summit Records. Dear Dorothy; the Oz Sessions—brought music from the Wizard of Oz to the national jazz charts. The CD was featured in Starbucks, showed up in Dawson’s Creek, and he trio even toured Japan. Unforeseen, their second album, jumped to #8 on the national jazz charts, and included songs by the Police, Soundgarden, and the Beatles. However, all these successes were a blur, leading up to one night on tour in Spain with Iglesias—in yet another sold-out 10,000 seat venue. It was here that Lawson suddenly felt absolutely alone on stage and said, “It’s time to do my own thing again.”

That meant getting back to writing music true to his soul. The result isn’t the kind of music meant to be downloaded to your iPod, listened to on your crappy laptop speakers, or caught at the gym on the elliptical machine. Lawson’s music is meant for those rare times when we have actually have a few moments to sit down and turn on some music to relax.

That’s because Lawson composes the silence between the notes as much as the music itself. Imagine standing in the middle of NYC, engulfed by all its energy. That same pulse stems from Lawson’s music, in a more slow-burn sorta way. That’s the kind of music Lawson writes: with listening—real listening—in mind. Listeners get the feeling they’re participating in a musical conversation. That’s because—unlike just about every other solo pianist out there—Lawson’s music has a strong organic, improvisatory element to it. Chad Lawson is sort of like George Winston, but the audience Lawson’s going for probably won’t get that reference anyway. (Lawson has always made a habit of bringing jazz to new audiences, as if you couldn’t tell by his credits.)

“Will,” the opening track of his new solo release, Set on a Hill, doesn’t grab you the way a first song is “supposed to”…rather it invites you in. It opens with one simple tone, first played alone, then repeated in different rhythms—a beacon, or lighthouse, on the open sea, calling you home. From the start, it’s obvious that the spaces between notes have as much value as any notes themselves. The music is influenced—but not overrun—by Lawson’s producer, Will Ackerman of Windham Hill Records. (Ackerman was behind many of George Winston’s eponymous albums as well as those by guitar great Michael Hedges.)

All Lawson’s songs, in fact, give you the chance to hear the music, and simply exhale, to breathe. His music affords the time that most of us never take in the day to rest our mind—as if to say, things can be put on pause—even for just a few moments. Although a CD of nine original instrumentals, there’s a heavy lyrical element to the music. “Will” seems to unfurl in the studio, a call & response conversation, continually developing between that single note, and richer phrases. The title track is part country waltz—and part moodier, quicksilver chord changes. The two (thankfully) never quite resolve. Throughout, the music is engaging, but never takes itself too seriously: “A Goldfish Named George” recalls a fishes’ shimmering movements, with little right-hand flourishes, and singsong melodies.
For the immediate future, Lawson will continue writing, recording and producing records by like-minded artists on his Hillset Records. And all of this is very good news for those looking to get away, at least for a few moments, from everything else.