NYSMusic's Andie Chapman writes...... Four-time Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo has often advocated for human rights as she has been a UNICEF ambassador since 2002. Her music is imbued with compassion, and throughout the years she has contributed songs for important causes, such as her contribution song "Leila" for the Enough Project which raised awareness for women's rights in Raise Hope for Congo.
In 2020, the singer and activist recorded the song "How Can I Tell You?" by composers Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty who wrote "Ragtime," "Once on This Island," "Anastasia," and many more notable works. This song was included in a documentary directed and produced by Jeff Kaufman titled Nasrin. Often referred to as the "Nelson Mandela of Iran," Nasrin Sotoudeh fought for human rights in Iran, eventually leading to her arrest in June 2018 for defending women who publicly protested Iran's mandatory hijab law. The government sentenced her to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes. Nasrin now has COVID-19 and a heart condition, but even from the confines of prison she has continued to challenge the authorities.
READ THE FULL NYSMusic ARTICLE & WATCH THE VIDEO
The Guardian's Dave Gelly writes....August Wilson's 1982 play, and the 2020 Netflix film, are about a lot more than music, but Gertude "Ma" Rainey ("Mother of the Blues") was a real person, and the action takes place around what was a real recording session. Music, and how it's treated, is the basic metaphor here, so music is an important accompaniment to the story. In this case – like the clothes, the cars and the surrounding scene – it must also persuade us that we are in Chicago in 1927. Saxophonist Branford Marsalis has certainly spared no effort in recreating authentic period sounds. Photograph: David Lee/AP
READ THE FULL Guardian ARTICLE
WBGO'S The Checkout: SIMON RENTNER writes......We've always admired Shai Maestro's fearless approach to music. When he sits down at the piano, especially in an improvisational solo setting, he checks the temperature of a space and lets the music come to him, allowing one idea to flow into another. But he wasn't always that free.
On this episode of The Checkout, Maestro remembers a difficult moment on tour with bassist Avishai Cohen and drummer Mark Guiliana - a moment that would shape his career. In the middle of a performance, while playing his tune, the trio took an unexpected detour and he completely freaked out. That meltdown would change his thinking, and approach to music, forever. To hear Maestro tell it, what he became after this experience was more human - which is also the title of his new album, which ECM will release on Jan. 29.
READ THE FULL WBGO: Newark NJ ARTICLE & LISTEN TO THE SEGMENT
Following the success of the Busoni The Visionary series, Jeni Slotchiver is humbled to introduce something so intimately close to home. With Southern roots of her own, Ms. Slotchiver's debut ZOHO CD release American Heritage is her homage to the legendary composers preserving American folk music and creating anew. What was once familiar, is reborn.
Spanning 125 years, from Louis Moreau Gottschalk's The Banjo (ca. 1854-5) to Frederic Rzewski's Down by the riverside (1979), American Heritage presents piano compositions by composers of concert music, inspired by the melodies, dance rhythms, harmonic inventions and various stylistic elements evocative of the American experience. Of the eight composers represented, six are of African descent and two of these are women. There are quotes from spirituals, use of the African American pentatonic scale, the African call and response structure popularized in southern church tradition, polyphonic rhythms of jazz, and the rich, sultry harmonies of blues. With the exception of the rich musical heritage of Indigenous people, the largest and most important American folkloric body of work arrived on American shores with the first enslaved African people.
Jazz Weekly's George W. Harris writes....Pianist Jeni Slotchiver gives solo interpretations of music from early to late 20th Century, taking you to a different world of patience and space. While classically trained, Slotchiver has a rich blues touch and a bona fide feel for gospel and folk material. Material ranges from a homespun read of "Swanee River" to the spiritual "Down By The Riverside" as well as the folk classic "Shenandoah" but with an arrangement by Keith Jarret. Parlor moods are presented in a collection of pieces from Harry Thacker Burleigh and the genteel pen of Louis Moreau Gottschalk, on "Union" and "The Banjo" while traditional pieces like "Deep River" and even 1967's "Troubled Water" feel like they've both been drawn from the same well. A journey to another world and world view.
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Soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom and bassist Mark Helias come together to create duets discovered in the moment in a way that is rarely heard today with Some Kind of Tomorrow. The long time bandmates, separated by space and time find a way to play in real time with one another and the results are magical. Two master improvisers and composers bring listeners up-close and personal to the first spark of their imaginations at work, recording eleven duet improvisations over the spring, summer, and fall of 2020. The music is raw, authentic, intimate, alive, and unapologetic in its passion. Their sound is deep wood and polished brass recorded with a depth that is hard to describe. They played the music, recorded it, mastered it firsthand and are now making it available to listeners for the first time as a digital download on Bandcamp. Don't miss these fearless jazz explorers as they face the future.
Heard on Fresh Air, here's Kevin Whitehead's piece. LISTEN & READ THE TRANSCRIPT
Shunia is a duo that combines addictive melodies, ancient chants and polycultural rhythms into a sound that feels both new and timeless. Their music captures and conveys deep energies and spirit. The state of "shunia" means stillness, receptivity. Shunia's members, Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson both performed with the Washington National Opera for 20 years before finding continued success in their solo careers. Coming together as Shunia, they combined their influences, inspirations and experiences to create genre-defying music with the power to transform and to connect you to the energy within and around you. It can put you in touch with something as simple as your five senses or as mysterious as the infinite.
American Songwriter's NADIA NEOPHYTOU writes......To press play on Shunia's new album of chants is to allow a wave of calm and relaxation to wash over one's whole self. For Lisa Reagan and Suzanne Jackson, who've known each other for 30 years, sharing the gift that's been a major part of their lives with others is the reason they began recording together as the duo Shunia in the first place. "Music in and of itself is such a powerful medium," Reagan tells American Songwriter. "It is the language of our humanity and our souls. We know these mantras are tried and true, and we have personally been chanting them for years."
READ THE FULL American songwriter ARTICLE
WFMT: Chicago 's Candice Agree writes....From the age of 3, CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe toiled at a keyboard-not in typing, as unintended preparation for his 13 years at the Washington Post, but in studying classical piano in Delmar, a suburb of Albany, NY. Although he loved playing, his interest in current events and politics pulled him into a journalism career. No stranger to Chicago, in 2008, O'Keefe was in Grant Park the night that Barack Obama was elected president. O'Keefe, 37, is about to become a fixture in the White House press room, as he will cover the Biden administration for the TV network he joined in 2018. But he has never left his first passion far behind. He shared some musical memories with us before taking on his new assignment at CBS News as Senior White House & Political Correspondent. Photo courtesy CBS News)
READ Candice Agree's Q&A with Ed O'Keefe.
An ensemble that attracts rave reviews and sell-out crowds at prestigious venues everywhere from Vienna to New York, the sensational SIGNUM saxophone quartet are now set to present their first Deutsche Grammophon album.
Chad Lawson's 'You Finally Knew' is very highly recommended / Mainly Piano
Posted: November 19, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
I first discovered Chad Lawson's music in 2009 when he released his debut solo piano album, Set On a Hill, and I instantly fell in love. That album went on to win the Whisperings Solo Piano Radio "Album of the Year" award. Two years later, Chad played a house concert in my home in Oregon with a couple of other Whisperings artists, and his incredibly expressive touch on the piano keys literally stopped me in my tracks. In many ways, Chad is a pianist's pianist, but his music is so heartfelt and accessible that it also resonates with many people with less musical experience. Extensively trained in both classical music and jazz, Chad Lawson is that rare artist who has a sound all his own. He has released quite a number of albums on "indie" labels, but recently signed with Decca Records, which will give his music the much broader audience it so deserves. Very highly recommended!
Pianist and composer Chad Lawson shares his cover of Billie Eilish's song "When the Party's Over" today; listen/watch HERE. The track is Lawson's first release since he shared his album You Finally Knew last fall; check it out HERE.
"A great song is a great song no matter the genre or instrument," says Lawson. "When I first heard this track, I was geeking how FINNEAS crafted such a unique melody based on his chordal theme; so creative. Add Billie's unabashed vulnerability to the mix and you have the artistic marriage of head & heart. I knew this song would resonate with just a piano."
With You Finally Knew, Lawson sought to create an album that would be "an invitation for self-reflection." Overwhelmed by the number of people reaching out to express how his music has helped them through difficult times-especially during the pandemic-he launched a new podcast, Calm it Down. Passionate about how music can help people, reduce stress levels and improve emotional health, the podcast seemed to be the next logical step and a great way of connecting with and helping his audience. Live across all DSPs, new episodes are released every Tuesday. Calm it Down is now nominated for an iHeart Radio Podcast award. The virtual awards show will be broadcast across streaming platforms and iHeartMedia radio stations on January 21.
Pianist and composer Chad Lawson releases his new solo piano album, You Finally Knew, recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios. "You Finally Knew is an invitation of self-reflection," explained Chad Lawson. "Beckoning us to pause and look inside ourselves, to see what makes each of us uniquely us. It is becoming increasingly difficult to be honest with ourselves as we unintentionally set aside even the smallest life-giving activities to address everyday obligations."
Composer and pianist Chad Lawson released his major label solo piano debut, Stay, on May 1 via Decca Records US. Where minimalism and melody meet, the five track EP and title track "Stay," is a paean to inner peace and a clarion call to just exhale and breathe. You can pre-order the EP and listen to the single here. You can watch the accompanying visualizer here. A modern-day master of reinvention, Lawson has now released; Prelude In D Major.
Composer and pianist Chad Lawson announces the release of his major label solo piano debut, Stay, set for May 1 via Decca Records US. Where minimalism and melody meet, the five track EP and title track "Stay," is a paean to inner peace and a clarion call to just exhale and breathe. You can pre-order the EP and listen to the single here. You can watch the accompanying visualizer here.
A modern-day master of reinvention, Lawson eschews both the trend of ancient instruments and New Age-y electronic clichés commonly heard in today's wellness music, relying only on his faithful piano, his emotional signature sound and eclectic taste for the five original songs on the EP. From the self-reflective "Stay" to the overall theme of the EP, Lawson strikes a delicate balance between the intimate and universal. "I'm just trying to invite people to take a moment and reconnect with who they are" says Lawson. "The music I make is meant to create calm." "It's about finding those times that are fleeting but buffer the soul." The music is both peaceful and transfixing.