William "Count" Basie was a master of economy in his piano playing. Never flashy or overtly technical, Basie had a knack for being able to play the least number of notes while still maintaining the necessary momentum to swing. Miles Davis was another such master, where the music was more about style than technique. Guitarist Piers Lawrence is also such a musical economist. His jazz guitar playing is paced and refined, each note carefully considered and placed with no interest in practicing flashy virtuosity.
Stolen Moments is a collection of originals and standards that showcase Lawrence's stripped down approach to jazz guitar. Lawrence employs a piano trio for his rhythm format, approximating that used by Wes Montgomery on his famous Wynton Kelly recordings. Lawrence chooses a round, even guitar tone, not unlike the aforementioned Montgomery or Joe Pass slowed down to 33 & 1/3. Lawrence never plays too many notes (as, yes, Pass occasionally did), resulting in tasteful, listenable and completely accessible jazz.
Lawrence's acute empathy with pianist Chuk Fowler allows the latter broad latitude in his comping and soloing, both in intense evidence on Sonny Rollin's "Pent-Up House" and Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments." Fowler shows great capability in playing both mainstream and acoustic smooth jazz (hear the thoroughly adult contemporary bent of "Everytime").
Bassist Jim Hankins shines brightly on the title piece and Lawrence's "Samba Christina," a lilting Latin melody. The entire ensemble must collect their considerable talent for Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee," where the performance is brisk, but not too fast, drawing forth all that is ornithology. Stolen Moments is the complete package: intelligently chosen repertoire, well arranged, and expertly performed.
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