Chad Lawson has been one of my favorite pianists for many years. When I first saw him play live in 2011, his velvety piano touch literally stopped me in my tracks. More than proficient in many genres of music, it is with his own breathtaking compositions that Lawson truly shines the brightest. Never one to show off with a lot of bravado or fancy finger work, Lawson's goal with his music is to provide a peaceful respite where people can breathe. "If you listen to any of my albums, they all revolve around the idea of stillness," he says. "I'm just trying to invite people to take a moment and reconnect with who they are. The music I make is meant to create calm." "Waltz in B Minor" is a beautiful and compelling example of this. Closer to Chopin than Strauss, the piece is slow, poignant and very expressive. I think it would be appropriate to call it an exquisite gem of contemporary classical music.
Prelude in D Major (single)
Chad Lawson has been an independent artist for quite a few years and has created and released some stunning music - much of it solo piano. With one of the most elegant piano touches in contemporary music, Lawson's recent signing to the Decca label will make his music available to a much broader audience. With all of the chaos everywhere in the world right now, the timing couldn't be better for Lawson's soothing messages of hope and beauty.
Chad Lawson's goal with his original music is to bring calm and stillness to those who hear it, allowing them to breathe and reconnect with who they are. "Prelude in D Major" hints at the grace and emotional depth of the music of Chopin, but remains very much in the present. Reflective and very dreamy, the truth in this music should easily bridge the generations and appeal to a universal audience.
First Light begins with the title track, a piece that reflects the stillness and peace of a brand new day. The "official" video for this piece is visually stunning and illustrates the music beautifully. "Waves" reflects on the ocean at its most serene with a lazy surf and beams of light dancing on the water. More ambient than melodic, it's almost as relaxing as a walk on the beach. "Peaceful Dream" is also very ambient and moves with the rhythm of someone's breathing while in a deep sleep. "Distant Shores" ups the tempo a little for a daydream about what life might be like on the other side of the water. Layered guitars take us on a journey through the imagination. I'd love to see a video for "Fjord," which seems to very effectively describe the majesty of a fjord and the smooth peacefulness of the water that flows through it - a favorite. "Wanderlust" is by far the longest piece on the album at a little over 10 minutes. With a relaxed, easy pace on the guitar and atmospheric synth background sounds, it's a soft and dreamy journey to anywhere your mind wants to go. "Path of Light" brings the album to a quiet and gentle close, leaving the listener feeling refreshed, uplifted and ready to move forward. You really can't ask for more!
READ THE FULL Mainly Piano REVIEW
World-renowned guitarist Sharon Isbin takes us on a personal tour of her two latest albums: Affinity and Strings for Peace. Affinity is loaded with works written for Isbin, including the title track – a new guitar concerto by Chris Brubeck which contains a musical nod to his late father, legendary jazz musician Dave Brubeck (whose centenary is in 2020). Also on that disc: works that span the global palette from Tan Dun, Leo Brouwer, Antonio Lauro, and Richard Danielpour (whose song settings of Rumi poems also feature the wonderful mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard). Sharon also introduces us to Strings for Peace, her collaboration with Sarod master Amjad Ali Khan that presents four Ragas masterfully arranged for Sharon with sarods and tabla, thus drawing compelling connections between Western and Indian classical music.
LISTEN TO conversation with FM91: Toledo OH, Classical Host - Brad Cresswell
Called "the next big jazz guitarist" by NPR in 2010, Nir Felder has become a highly sought-after musician as both a solo artist and sideman. Equally adept across a wide range of genres, inspired by icons from John Coltrane to voodoo chile Jimi Hendrix, Felder has forged a unique and highly recognizable sound. He is a member of Band of Other Brothers (Jeff Coffin, Jeff Babko, Will Lee, and Keith Carlock) and has performed with Chaka Khan, Diana Krall, John Mayer, Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington (with whom he recorded the GRAMMY-winning Money Jungle), Vijay Iyer, Jack DeJohnette, Meshell Ndegeocello, and many others.
A DownBeat Editor's Pick, Felder's debut album Golden Age (Sony/Okeh) has been called "absolutely beautiful" by The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "lyrical and lofty" by The New York Times, and "a melodic triumph" by the New York City Jazz Record. He is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, where he was awarded the Jimi Hendrix Award.
LISTEN TO THE PREMIER Guitar podcast
The original soundtrack for The Last of Us Part II is now available from Sony Music. The music for this soundtrack was composed by Gustavo Santaolalla (who also worked on the original The Last of Us), with additional music composed by Mac Quayle. Gustavo Santaolalla is a musician and film composer from Argentina who has previously won the Oscar for Best Original Score for Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Babel (2006), not to mention his work in other film and video game soundtracks. Santaolalla is also slated to compose the music for the upcoming HBO series based on The Last of Us.
Of the soundtrack for The Last of Us Part II, composer Gustavo Santaolalla had the following to say:
"Composing the music for The Last of Us Part II represented one of the biggest challenges of my career. Diving into the universe of the first game inspired me to come up with sounds, instrumentation and moods that became very closely related to the story and the characters. Fortunately, people found in the music the precise emotional support that a story such as The Last of Us required. The way in which fans related to the score of that first game is something I had never experience before."
Listening to the music for The Last of Us Part II reminds me yet again that you should never judge a video game by its cover art. If you think the music for this game is generic and action-y, then you have another thing coming. This soundtrack is sensitive, with only an occasional foray into "action mode" music. That tells me that this game is more retrospective than I thought, as it's my experience that the music largely reflects what goes on in the game (and you're not going to get calm music if it's crazy fighting all the time).
If you want to experience the music in this game without the distraction of playing it through, then I highly recommend picking the soundtrack up.
READ THE FULL FILM MUSIC CENTRAL REVIEW
With an eclectic whirlwind of a resume that includes work on hit Broadway shows, an Emmy nomination for co-writing the theme to "Dateline," MD and keyboardist for late tap legend Gregory Hines and work with everyone from Liza Minelli, Freddie Hubbard and Donna Summer, it was only a matter of time before composer, pianist and drummer Rick Cutler really cut loose in his solo career and presented a freewheeling showcase of everything he can do in a single collection.
After 15 years mostly focused on piano works (with a few vocals and percussive elements chiming in), that inspiring, multi-faceted journey arrives with Women & Children – a colorful, often lyrical, sometimes spiritual, alternately grooving and meditative 12 track romp exploring the multiple muses of his life. Fans of Cutler's long-established beautiful solo piano flow will gravitate first towards graceful ivory-centered tracks like "Green," "Hymn #4" and the truly hypnotic (thus perfectly titled) "Trance."
READ THE FULL JW VIBE REVIEW
Guitarist John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019 - "old school" style as Scofield says, acknowledging that more than forty years of preparation led up to it. John was a 20-year-old student at Berklee when he first met and played with bassist Swallow, and they have continued ever since, in many different contexts.
"I love these songs", says Scofield of the selection of Swallow compositions explored here – a broad range including tunes that have become standards, as well as some lesser-known works. The rapport between Scofield and Swallow is evident in every moment. John: "Sometimes when we play it's like one big guitar, the bass part and my part together."
Behind the drum kit, Bill Stewart is alert to all the implications of the interaction. "What Bill does is more than ‘playing the drums,'" Scofield says. "He's a melodic voice in the music, playing counterpoint, and comping, while also swinging really hard." The guitarist himself plays with fire and invention throughout: "These two giants bring out the best in me."
Karim Mosna, radio host with 101.5 The Hawk in Hamilton, Ontario features Steve Swallow with insightful and inspiring conversation for the attached podcast
Sony Music Masterworks today releases Not Our First Goat Rodeo, the long-awaited follow-up album to the GRAMMY Award-winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile.
In the fall of 1968, a sixteen-year old high school student named Danny Scher had a dream to invite legendary jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk and his all-star quartet to perform a concert at his local high school in Palo Alto, CA.
Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette has decided to release her stirring rendition of "Strange Fruit" ahead of schedule as it says as much about the history of American racism and the state of the country today.
Guitarist John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019 - "old school" style as Scofield says, acknowledging that more than forty years of preparation led up to it.
As the live concert scene vanished, 'at home music-making' surges / The New York Times
Posted: June 28, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
When the coronavirus sequestered Americans at home and forced businesses to close, Hale Ryan braced himself for a financial winter. As the director of sales and marketing at Metroplex Piano in Dallas and a 30-year veteran of the piano business, he had seen other crises - like 9/11 and the 2008 recession - damage sales. When the lockdown began in March, Mr. Ryan said in a recent phone interview, "I thought this was going to be the final nail."
Instead, he began to field a flood of requests for instruments. Even with his showroom closed, the economy nose-diving and the professional music world in tatters, he sold pianos.
"It's actually been the best three months that I've seen in retail," he said.
The piano market encompasses a wide range of instruments, from hand-built concert grands that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to factory-made uprights, digital pianos and keyboards designed for young learners. The high-water mark of piano sales in America was 1909, when 364,500 new acoustic pianos were sold in the country. Since then, radio, television, recordings and instrument technology transformed the way music is created and consumed. Only about 30,000 new acoustic pianos are now sold here each year, but the number surpasses a million when all digital varieties are included.
Even a lower-end instrument represents a significant investment, and can seem like a luxury during a time of economic uncertainty. And with showrooms closed this spring, potential buyers could no longer test-drive the possibilities. A sale represented not just a splurge, but also a leap of faith.
"It's actually been the best three months that I've seen in retail," said Hale Ryan of Metroplex Piano in Dallas.Credit...Metroplex Piano
And yet interviews with nearly a dozen dealers across the country reveal surprisingly robust sales that suggest a resurgence of at-home music-making just as the live concert scene vanished. Most of the dealers noted a rise in demand for digital pianos, which allow players to channel the sound through headphones: a key feature in households where working-from-home parents share space with distance-learning children. The phenomenon seems to be part of a general pivot toward home-based recreation, along with increased demand for gym equipment and bicycles.
Indeed, a significant portion of purchasers appears to be new to the market. Tom Sumner, the president of Yamaha Corporation of America, said in an interview that he had heard from retailers that between 20 and 25 percent of sales this spring were to first-time buyers.
"A good chunk of customers are people they've never seen before," Mr. Sumner said.
According to him, Yamaha sold 60 percent more digital pianos this April than in the same month last year. He added that the sales increase was especially significant because, in a typical spring, schools tend to make big purchases in preparation for fall band season. Because of the coronavirus, he said, that segment has dropped away, so the spike in sales likely comes from individual buyers.
Brian Majeski, the co-owner of Music Trades, a company that analyzes data about the musical instruments industry, said in an interview that across America, sales of digital pianos rose by 30 percent this April and May, with the trend appearing to continue into June. He also noted an uptick for acoustic pianos, though it was smaller and mostly driven by used instruments.
Still, Mr. Majeski said, "The question in our industry is: Will this stick? Are you creating a new generation of players, or is it a momentary spike with people who have time on their hands looking for things to do?"
The Piano Guys, a crossover group that has clocked over a billion YouTube views with music videos of its arrangements of pop and classical standards, began selling digital pianos for $2,000 to $8,000 on its website last December, typically bundled with online learning materials alongside proprietary sheet music. Steven Sharp Nelson, a member of the group, said that in the first months it sold a piano every two or three days. In April and May demand rose steeply; some days the band sold six pianos in one day.
He said it was the pandemic that had led many to learn to play the piano for the first time. "We're in a cadenza fermata," he said, referring to the moment in a classical concerto when the orchestra drops away and the soloist takes off on a flight of fancy. "People are improvising."
Isaac Namias, who sells restored acoustic pianos in Brooklyn, said email inquiries shot up when the virus hit New York. Under lockdown, he said, he sold nearly twice as many units per month as during normal times, mostly instruments in the lower price range, about $2,500 to $6,500. About half his business was driven by piano teachers referring students. Notably absent from the client list were professional performing pianists. Mr. Namias said, "They want to touch the piano, they know exactly what they're looking for."
But the reliance on hands-on, in-person sales seems to have lessened. Anthony Gilroy, a spokesman for Steinway, said in an email that although the company had seen a drop in sales when showrooms closed, the decline had been less than expected. In response to the pandemic, Steinway for the first time created an option to buy pianos directly from its website. And sales representatives using digital platforms were able to make big-ticket sales, including limited-edition Steinways costing upward of a quarter of a million dollars.
Mr. Nelson of The Piano Guys likened the trend to car sales. "To my mind it's like when people started selling cars on eBay," he said. "At first people thought that was crazy. But now a significant portion of car sales is done online."
Mr. Ryan, whose showroom in Dallas has since reopened, said he had organized virtual demonstrations of instruments on Zoom. "I never thought anybody would buy a $20,000 piano without playing it first," he said. But he sold several concert grand pianos this way, including a $200,000 Bösendorfer to a doctor who had been working on the front lines of the coronavirus.
"He is a pathologist and a serious player and he's always wanted a Bösendorfer," Mr. Ryan said. "He's stressed beyond belief and he just wants to get back to playing piano."
Utah sensation The Piano Guys release an all-new album Limitless (Portrait/Sony Music Masterworks) on November 9. On Limitless, The Piano Guys showcase their talent for reinventing the music of any genre, from contemporary pop and rock hits to classical compositions, Hollywood scores and even never-before-heard originals. Also, catch them on their U.S. tour, which kicks off in their home state of Utah on November 7 and continues through early 2019.
"As we go through life's cycles, sometimes we face the sun and sometimes we face stars that stretch on forever. We may extend our reach so far away from us at times that we forget we only need to look within to rediscover who we actually are and soar. We are limitless. We hope that's the way this music makes you feel." – The Piano Guys
With over a billion YouTube views for their 50 plus music videos,The Piano Guys announce the release of their new holiday album Christmas Together(Portrait) available October 27. The album features collaborations with music royalty from the pop, opera, and video worlds on classical themes, holiday chestnuts, and original compositions. Their seventh full-length studio album and second holiday collection, Christmas Together brings The Piano Guys' "Wonders of the World" quest back home for the holidays after their last album, Uncharted, found the Utah quartet roaming far afield to places like Scotland, Mexico, and Jordan.
15 NEW 48 TOTAL
Markets include: Los Angeles, Boston, Hartford, Saint Augustine, Santa Fe, MI(Statewide), AL(Statewide), WI(Statewide), WV(Statewide), Barcelona INTER: Canada, UK, Spain Online: Musicas Imaginadas, Zephyr Planet Radio, HNR, MainlyPiano, StageBuddy, AccuRadio, IMDb, LDS Living, Daily Herald
With over a billion YouTube views of their more than 50 music videos,The Piano Guys announce the release of their new album Uncharted(Sony - Portrait) which includes the upbeat new song "Okay" written by hit-makers Andy Grammer and Dave Bassett. Uncharted literally charts new territory for The Piano Guys. Continuing their "Wonders of the World" quest, they've shot three of their recent hit videos far afield – Scotland, Mexico, Jordan – while "Okay" shows them in the recording studio where they create their inspirational music, and in front of a cheering crowd of 20,000 at the USANA Amphitheatre in their home state of Utah.
13 NEW 33 TOTAL
SYND: The Bill Miller Show Direct: MOOD, Stingray Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Seattle, Long Island, Cedar Rapids IA, Saint Augustine FL. Online: Zephyr Planet Radio, Musicas Imaginadas, The Eclectic Chair, Mainly Piano
The Piano Guys continue their fairytale story of turning a musical hobby and friendship into an extremely successful worldwide career. The four talented dads from Utah, have climbed the Great Wall of China for their craft, landed atop Billboard charts, sold out tour dates around the world, accrued a massive social media following and scored YouTube viewership at 730 million-plus views. On November 13, they reach a new career milestone, releasing their first ever live album, The Piano Guys – Live!(Portrait/Sony Music Masterworks). The deluxe package features live audiofrom The Piano Guys' sold out performance at the world's most famous concert hall, Carnegie Hall in New York City, plus live video from their sold out concert at the stunning outdoor amphitheatre, Red Rocks in Colorado. Plus, The Piano Guys latest video"When Stars and Salt Collide," their take on the Coldplay hit, "A Sky Full of Stars, is a heartfelt dedication to their fans
21 NEW 48 TOTAL
SYND: Stingray Direct: MOOD Markets include: New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Madison, Canada Online: Live 365, Taintradio
The incredible success story known as - The Piano Guys, four talented dads from Utah, release their fourth studio album entitled Wonders on Portrait/Sony Music Masterworks. Not only has TPG climbed the Great Wall of China for one video, they have also landed atop the Billboard charts, sold out tour dates around the world, accrued a massive social media following and scored YouTube viewership at 500 million views. Wonders, a nod to the "Wonders of the World," features successful single/video releases from the past year such as, "Let It Go," "Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends," "Don't You Worry Child," and "Story of my Life." It also includes new songs with strong familiarity – "Batman Evolution" (The Piano Guys' take on various Batman themes over the years), a mash-up that incorporates melodies from Dave Matthews Band's huge hit "Ants Marching / Beethoven Ode to Joy," and Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition."
9 Total 32 Total
SYND: PRI/Echoes, Sixty Second CD, The Bill Miller Show, Galaxie Markets include: Cleveland, Berkeley CA, Kansas City, Long Island NY, Chattanooga TN, El PasoCanada Online: HLN, Humboldt 101, HuffPost, Live 365
With the success of The Piano Guys' first two major label releases, The Piano Guys and The Piano Guys 2, Portrait/Sony Masterworks releases the Utah-based classical-pop group's new holiday album: A Family Christmas. The album is also available as a deluxe set that includes a bonus DVD of their hit holiday music videos, plus a classic Yule Log video featuring all of the songs on the album. Produced by the group's Steven Sharp Nelson, Jon Schmidt, Al Van der Beek and Paul Anderson, A Family Christmas puts The Piano Guys' signature twist to such Christmas classics as "Silent Night," "Good King Wenceslas," and "Angels We Have Heard On High," which will be supported by a new YouTube video.
26 New 'ON' 134 TOTAL
SYND: PRI/Echoes & Classical 24 Direct: SiriusXM, Music Choice, MOOD, Galaxie Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Cleveland, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Baltimore, Denver, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Detroit, Kansas City, El Paso, Jacksonville FL, Wichita KS, Buffalo, Albuquerque, Columbus OH, Honolulu, Canada Online: LIVE 365, Humboltdt 101, Taintradio, WGOE
They came together under the most serendipitous of circumstances, yet The Piano Guys will tell you it was all meant to be. And with over 750,000 subscribers to their YouTube channel - greater than most of today's major artists, and growing at the rate of 50,000 fans per month! - who's to disagree? These 5 dads from Utah began making music videos together for fun and their "hobby" turned into a worldwide phenomenon when their self-made YouTube videos amassed over 130,000,000 views collectively. Newly signed to Sony Masterworks, The Piano Guys release their self-titled major label debut recording.
6 New 'ON' this week: 37 Total
SYND: Dial-Global/AC, BETTERTV Markets include: New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, El Paso, Jacksonville FL, Wichita KS Online: Muruch, LIVE 365, WGOE