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Guitarist Piers Lawrence realizes his dream of recording a mainstream jazz album through a well-balanced mix of originals and standards. Lawrence is a confident player with an ear for melody and flowing harmonies. He has a graceful quality that gets into the songs whether he is out swinging or embracing bop.
Lawrence also comes off as a pretty skilled writer through his three contributions to the set. "Samba Christina is, naturally, a samba. The guitarist feeds the tune with thick notes, deliberately letting open air in and then snapping on the notes to give them a solid depth. His sense of dynamics and proportion comes to the fore in his run of notes, a skein taken up by Chuk Fowler whose piano rides a trail of breezy phrases.
Everytime, another Lawrence composition, is a ballad. Jim Hankins is recorded heavy on bass, a trait seen on other tracks but Lawrence soothes. He lets the beckoning melody unravel and soak in, then bites down, laying a harder line that ups the emotional factor.
The band does well in its interpretation of standards. Lawrence bops out on Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee, the rhythm section providing sound support, with Sir Earl Grice setting a lithe snap on the drums. Lawrence and Fowler continue to be emissaries, one following the other, playing with zest and feel. The two also spark each other and come off as energetic musical cohorts on "Secret Love.
With a band that is in empathy with his aspirations and the music, Lawrence serves up enjoyable music.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.