An Evening with Chad Lawson and Special Guests
Photo by Josh Goleman
As a Steinway artist with multiple #1 releases, Chad Lawson has a different approach to classical music; don't make it classical. His #1 iTunes release (2018), re:piano, pushed the envelope of what the piano sounds like with his album composed of loops, effects and layers of textured landscapes; all from a piano. Lawson was invited to share his approach to re:piano on NPR's Weekend Edition with Scott Simon. In 2015, his release The Chopin Variations, caught the attention of CBS Sunday Morning, NPR's All Things Considered and PRI’s Performance Today. Along with the violinist from Lady Gaga and the cellist from Kanye West, the trio has turned the classical world on its head as it has 'deconstructed Chopin' into a modern-day/minimalist landscape. The Huffington Post called it "Intricate elegance" while NPR's All Things Considered said "You haven’t heard the Polish composer performed the way Chad Lawson plays him." Lawson simply wanted to re-introduce Chopin to the Spotify generation. The generation where genres no longer apply. The generation that hears only two styles of music; good or bad.
Chad is the official composer for the Amazon television series, Lore, in addition to the podcast titled the same. His music has also been used for The Walking Dead, Vampire Diaries, Viceland and numerous commercial placements have included clients such as Chevrolet, IBM, Microsoft, Purina, Delta Airlines, USB Financial, Asprey of London and many more.
As a five-year-old kid, Lawson wanted music lessons after seeing Sha Na Na on TV. As is typical, those lessons turned out to be mostly classically-oriented piano ones. When it came time to go to college, he applied to the Peabody Conservatory, but decided to focus on jazz and attended Berklee College of Music instead, where he also picked up studio keyboard gigs. After graduation, he ended up touring with Babik Reinhardt, and then formed his own jazz trio with Zack Page on bass and Al Sergel on drums. The Trio's self-titled debut album was released in 1997, followed by two more on the Summit label - Dear Dorothy: The Oz Sessions (2002) and Unforeseen(2004) - which did well on jazz charts. Dear Dorothy led to Lawson's music being used on the TV show Dawson's Creek and in Starbucks stores, and to his scoring Doughboys (Louis Lombardi, 2007). Lawson and the trio then took a break while he toured as keyboardist with Julio Iglesias in 2007.
William Ackerman, Windham Hill's founder, had taken an interest in Lawson's music, and helped launch Lawson's first solo album, Set on a Hill, in 2009. It marked a new direction for Lawson's career as five more solo projects appeared between 2011 and 2014, each earning editorial recognition from organizations including Amazon, CDBaby, Reviews New Age, NPR, and Spain's RTVE.
Lawson's solo work has a relaxed, meditative feel that draws on both the sonorities of classical music and the freeform nature of jazz improv. The feel of his music became even more intimate with The Space Between (2013), where he altered the sound of the piano by placing extra felt between the hammers and strings and placing the microphone close to the hammers. He used those same modifications in 2014 for his chart topping The Chopin Variations, based on the Romantic composer's melodies, which also featured violinist Judy Kang and cellist Rubin Kodheli. This was followed by the solo album Bach Interpreted in 2016, and scores for the podcast and Amazon TV series Lore, a confirmation of what was already recognized by producers for The Walking Dead and Viceland, and by ad agencies for Chevrolet, IBM and others: his music easily helped set the tone for their projects. In 2018, Lawson released re:Piano, this time processing the sound of his piano through tools available on an iPad, just as he does when live looping in concert, and again topping streaming and sales lists.
**This is Chad Lawson's San Francisco debut.