Portland, Oregon singer-songwriter-keyboardist Jarrod Lawson emerged seemingly out of nowhere, at the age of 37, with a self-produced debut album that took the world of soul and jazz by storm. Within a whirlwind couple of years the former stonemason and piano tuner played sold-out shows at London s Ronnie Scott s Club and Jazz Cafe, performed at the London Jazz Festival, Love Supreme and North Sea Jazz festivals and powered his way into the Dutch Top 40 albums chart. He has since performed in Tokyo, in Melbourne, at Indonesia s Java Jazz festival and across the United States in leading jazz venues from Washington DC to Seattle, New York to Atlanta.
Describing him as the blue eyed soul boy of jazz , the London Evening Standard wrote: It s not just Lawson s wide-ranging tenor and ability to swing, scat and groove that has made him the biggest soul-jazz sensation in years. It s the way he s bringing spirituality back to a genre that had lost its depth .
Lawson is now back, with his long-awaited second album "Be The Change" , accompanied by a talented band that benefits from the rhythmic presence of Grammy-nominated percussionist Sammy Figueroa, whose playing in a lengthy career has graced dozens of albums from artists as diverse as Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and Quincy Jones to Hall & Oates, Chic and Carole King.
Lawson s trademark layered harmonies and vocal phrasing, his jazz fusion arrangements and his stunning keyboard skills are in evidence throughout the album, notably on title track Be The Change , Universal Chord and Connected . On the beautiful, intimate I ll Be Your Radio he is joined by Amber Navran on vocals and flute and her fellow members of Los Angeles alternative R&B trio Moonchild who contribute clarinet and flugelhorn, and on the smoulderIng torch song Love Isn t Always Enough Max Ribner s trumpet and flugelhorn provide the perfect mood- setting accompaniment. Lawson grew up surrounded by music. His father ran a recording studio in the family s Redwood City, California home. After moving to Portland, he studied music and was a member of his college chamber choir and jazz ensemble. His near obsession with the piano blossomed when he was only 13 as he studied the masters from Chopin to Oscar Peterson, Ravel to Errol Garner, as well as Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and, of course, the artists who have influenced him the most - Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder. In 2015 he received an Artist of the Year Award from UK s Jazz FM.