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JULY REVIEW- All About Jazz Magazine by Elliott Simon
It's the overall creamy texture of the sound and the effortless vibe created by guitarist Piers Lawrence that makes Stolen Moments such an enjoyable listen. This is one together quartet whose mastery of group dynamics captures your attention right away with a short but effervescent rendering of Sonny Rollins’ “Pent-Up House”. Lawrence, who is a fluid and even-handed picker, flaunts some sprightly creative runs on Bird’s “Donna Lee”, has his sweet sound to the forefront on an uptempo presentation of the Doris Day vocal hit “Secret Love” and provides a delightfully mysterious rendering of bassist Jaco Pastorius’ “Reza”.
In between are a sprinkling of originals that deftly mix Latin rhythm into the straightahead slot of “Samba Christina” and straddle pop-balladry with the soulful “Dimanche” and tender “Everytime”. The music draws its cohesiveness from the experienced rhythm section that Lawrence has enlisted for this session. Pianist Chuk Fowler, bassist Jim Hankins and drummer Sir Earl Grice each has a long list of credentials that include anchoring the soul-infused grooves of guitarists like Wes Montgomery and George Benson. While they impress most with their collective platform, allowing Lawrence to set the course, Hankins’ bass shines with a few stolen moments of his own. This is especially true on the title cut as he deconstructs what is otherwise a superbly melodic treatment of this classic Oliver Nelson composition. When Lawrence rejoins, it is with a attains vibe-like purity, a timbre he maintains throughout the album.
These pros are well suited to this music and execute the difficult task of making it seem unforced with a sound that is not flashy but goes down easy like a sweet liqueur.
JULY REVIEW - Hot House Jazz Magazine by Paul Blair
Stolen Moments is the title of guitarist Lawrence's debut CD, one that's won him loads of airplay on jazz radio around the country. Contributing to a series of solid grooves on tracks like Sonny Rollins' "Pent-Up House," Bird's "Donna Lee," the title tune by Oliver Nelson and a catchy Jaco Pastorious number called "Reza" are pianist Chuck Fowler, bassist Jim Hankins and drummer Sir Earl Grice. It's the same foursome that will play this Kitano date. Look for them, too, on July 19 at Sugar Bar, the Ashford & Simpson boîte on W. 72nd St. By the way, Piers hosts online broadcasts of his own on Tribeca Radio. PB
Rotcod Zzaj - REVIEW
Piers Lawrence Quartet - STOLEN MOMENTS: This extremely enjoyable jazz CD won't hit the street (according to the liners) until 1 March, 2008... so, get your copy reserved now! Lawrence's guitar meshes perfectly with piano from Chuk Fowler, bass by Jim Hankins & drums from Sir Earl Grice... this is the kind of quartet jazz that hearkens back to the "good old days & good old ways" of jazz.
The pace is nice & easy, no players "comping" on top of the other - everybody knows what's to be played, & it's totally evident that their talent levels are at such a level that they know they don't have to compete with each other. That's especially true on the originals by Piers, like "Samba Christina, "Everytime" & "Dimanche" - "Dimanche" is my favorite on the particular CD, because the dynamics & tension/release are superb... far above average - it's one of the best "bluesy jazz" pieces I've heard this year. "Samba Christina", a bouncy little piece, came in as a close second. I give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating for any listener who wants classics in their collection. Get more information at www.pierslawrence.com
By Big Geez - REVIEW
There's something very satisfying about sitting down and listening to four talented jazz pros combining to provide a smooth and cohesive sound. It's a task that is far more difficult than it sounds, but the Piers Lawrence Quartet has nailed it on the group's new album, Stolen Moments, releasing March 1st on the Jazznet Media label.
Armed with a soulful guitar and sporting his signature beret, Piers Lawrence is a regular fixture on the New York jazz scene, and has a rich history that includes everything from Broadway to touring with Wilson Pickett. His current ties to the Harlem musical community have helped pave the way for matching up with the other members of the quartet, all of whom have their own impressive resumes.
Pianist Chuk Fowler is a veteran who lists Nat King Cole among his influences, and he's played with Billy Higgins and Hank Mobley. Bassist Jim Hankins is another seasoned pro who has worked with Lou Rawls, Wes Montgomery, and Sonny Stitt. And finally, drummer Sir Earl Grice has not only performed with Sonny Rollins, George Benson, and Stevie Wonder, but also lists acting credits among his accomplishments.
The album is a nice mix of eight tracks, three written by Lawrence and the others coming from a variety of composers, including Jaco Pastorius, Charlie Parker, and Sonny Rollins, whose "Pent-Up House" opens the album. It's a good choice because it shows how Lawrence's skillful guitar lead can ably substitute for Rollins' sax, a pattern that's followed throughout the album.
The group gives us a little bit more of a bop sound on Parker's "Donna Lee," with drummer Grice shining though, and something a touch more modern with Jaco's "Reza," but the album is mostly traditional jazz rather than cutting-edge stuff. One of my favorites was an old song given a new treatment, "Secret Love," with Lawrence and pianist Fowler playing nicely off
By Jerry D'Souza - ALL ABOUT JAZZ NY - REVIEW
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.
By Paula Edelstein - ALL ABOUT JAZZ LA - REVIEW
"Stolen Moments" features the exceptional musciality of guitarist Piers Lawrece, bassist Jim Hankins, Sir Earl Grice on drums and Chuk Fowler on piano. Lawrence's soulful, melodic guitar playing and prolific songwriting makes this CD a masterful offering for anyone into straight-ahead jazz.
While many of Lawrence's fans know him from his association with such hit Broadway musicals as Guys and Dolls, Hubie, Dancin' and Your Arms Too Short To Box With God, his presence in the jazz galazy includes his ownership of JazzNet Media and his production of the Internet radio show called "Manhattan Jazz."
The CD features such great standards as Sonny Rollins' "Pent-up House," Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments," the rarely heard Charlie parker composition "Donna Lee" and the Fain/Francis gem "Secret Love." While those standards may enamor the die-hard jazz enthusiast to the quartet's musicality, Lawrence's own "Everytime" and "Dimanche" are prominent showcases for their steller interplay and Lawrence's ability to bring something new to the table for novice jazz lovers - be it a blues or a loving ballad.
These songs are real winners and are destined to become jazz standards or ensconced in some amazing player's repertoire because of their beautiful melodies and chord progressions. Along with the excellent soloing, this quartet captures the character of a late night jazz scene with all its energy and depth of emotion.
So steal a few moments to enjoy this excellent recording. You'll be glad you did."
By Walter Kolosky - JAZZ.COM -SONG OF THE DAY - REVIEW
Guitarist Piers Lawrence studied music in France. He worked with R&B and soul stars such as Wilson Pickett and Phyllis Hyman. He hosts an Internet jazz radio show called "Manhattan Jazz." He owns JazzNet Media, the company that produced this CD. So, if after all these years he wants to put out an album of straight-ahead jazz, what's to stop him?
Jim Hankins's bass and Sir Earl Grice's drums start the groove on "Reza" even before they play. Well, it seems that way as it takes about 1/100th of a second for them to be in the pocket. Lawrence's sophisticated blues-funk arpeggio-laden guitar lays it down. He is playing some nasty licks that demand distortion. Yet his tone is pristine. The listener has to imagine the dirtiness that composer Pastorius had in mind. This is an interesting exercise and adds to the enjoyment of the performance. Fowler fills in the spaces with some well-placed comping. In a nod to Jaco, the tune ends with a fading "goodbye" bass riff. This is great stuff. Lawrence should make another such album and bring the same guys along with him.
Musicians: Piers Lawrence (guitar), Chuk Fowler (piano), Jim Hankins (bass), Sir Earl Grice (drums) Composed by Jaco Pastorius
By John Book - REVIEW
Piers Lawrence Quartet “Stolen Moments” JazzNet
PIERS LAWRENCE guitar; CHUK FOWLER piano; JIM HANKINS bass; SIR EARL GRICE drums
CD Review: http://therunoffgroove.blogspot.com/2008/02/run-off-groove-192.html
What are the Stolen Moments (Jazz Net Media) the Piers Lawrence Quartet speak of on their new album? For one, Lawrence is a "young" guitarist who fell in love with jazz at a young age and was moved to study the instrument formally. He decided to take his music to the studio and stage, and with this album he decided to collaborate with three jazz greats, all of whom still play with youth in their hearts.
Stolen Moments features drummer Sir Earl Grice, pianist Chuk Fowler and bassist Jim Hankins and together they play the kind of jazz for fans who have never forgotten the music of Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, Bill Evans, or some of George Benson's early CTI sides.
While there are a number of cover versions here, I really liked the songs Lawrence had a hand in writing, including "Samba Christina" and "Dimanche". While Lawrence occasionally displays the kind of flashiness he could easily pull off in an Al Di Meola manner, his approach is to keep it simple and become 1/4 of the ingredient behind each of these songs. Those who love a good piano in their jazz will definitely fall in love with Fowler's playing. It's a satisfying sound, it sounds like home.
So what are these Stolen Moments? Buy, don't steal this album, and discover them for yourself.
Stolen Moments will be released on March 1st, and is available at
"STOLEN MOMENTS is a warm slice of straight ahead jazz guaranteed to please jazz critics and the discerning jazz audience alike."
By Edward Blanco, ejazznews - REVIEW
Hailing from the New York area, the Piers Lawrence Quartet issues what is apparently their debut album with a vibrant performance in a new 2008 release of a straight-ahead jazz CD entitled “Stolen Moments.” The album is the culmination of a long time dream of New York native and jazz guitarist Piers Lawrence. A self published recording on his own label (Jazznet Media), Lawrence is also producer and host of “Manhattan Jazz,” an internet radio show on www.tribecaradio.net .
His quartet is comprised of Harlem-raised pianist Chuk Fowler, Detroit-born and bred Jim Hankins and New Jersey’s own Sir Earl Grice manning the drums. Essentially a rhythm-based quartet, the group plays tight and provides one marvelous performance.
Lawrence includes three original tunes but starts off with the terrific and bouncy Sonny Rollins score “Pent-Up House.” Turning South, Lawrence takes off on his samba-shaded “Samba Christina,” delivering excellent runs on the guitar leading to Fowler’s solo play on the keys and a nice drum roll from Grice. The title piece and Oliver Nelson tune, “Stolen Moments,” is one of the best renditions around capturing that familiar melody quite well.
The band picks up the beat and swings on Charlie Parker’s standard “Donna Lee,” where both the leader and pianist peel off some sturdy runs to make this one of the best charts here. Other notable tunes include Lawrence’s “Dimanche,” the Fain/Francis standard “Secret Love” and John Pastorius’s “Reza” to round out the set.
“Stolen Moments” is another warm slice of straight-ahead jazz delivered by a guitar led rhythm-based quartet guaranteed to please jazz critics and the discerning jazz audience alike. Kudos to Piers Lawrence and crew for crafting an entertaining and engaging session of jazz.
By Chris Spector - REVIEW
Editor and Publisher
Smokey After Hours Vibe
"PIERS LAWRENCE QUARTET/Stolen Moments: This crew comes across like a classic bunch of jazzbos. Recording the date in an afternoon mixing Rollins, Parker and Nelson with originals and some Jaco, the guitar led crew has the easy after hours vibe that flows from the Harlem renaissance in which most of them have some roots. Not showy but with a lot of flair, listeners that like their jazz straight up will simply dig this set. Well done throughout."
PIERS LAWRENCE QUARTET BIOS:
Piers Lawrence a soulful, melodic guitarist, and prolific songwriter was born in Manhattan, raised in San Francisco, and Geneva, Switzerland,where he studied Guitar and Composition at the Conservatoire de Musique de Lausanne. Upon his return to New York, he joined the world-renowned, Harlem-based, Jazz-Mobile Orchestra Big Band while he continued his studies with jazz greats Barry Galbraith and Ted Dunbar.
Soon he was playing Broadway shows including 'Guys and Dolls', 'Dancin', 'Hubie', and 'Your Arms Too Short to Box With God' and touring and recording with, , Wilson Picket, The Main Ingredient, Ester Phillips, Phyilis Hyman and The Caribbean Allstars and Merl Saunders. Today, he's back in New York City, bringing his love of jazz music both to the live stage and to internet radio, where he produces and hosts "Manhattan Jazz" on www.TribecaRadio.net.
His record label, JazzNet Media produces independent projects such as "Stolen Moments" which features three original tunes, Samba Christina, Everytime and Dimanche.
As Pianist Chuk Fowler puts it, "I had the great good fortune to be born and raised in Haaarlem", by which he means, 119th Street during the end of the Harlem Renaissance. His early influences include Nat "King" Cole, Hampton Hawes, and Miles Davis and after studying with Sir Roland Hanna and Sonny Stitt's father, Edward Boatner, he has gone on to play with Kenny Durham, Hank Mobley, Billy Higgins and Harry "Sweets" Edison.
Jim Hankins, upright Bass, comes from Detroit, MI, where he grew up in a jazz musician-rich neighborhood that was home to icons such as Barry Harris, Charles McPherson, Donald Byrd and Kenny Burrell. Jim has worked with jazz icons such as Sonny Stitt, Lou Rawls, Wes Montgomery, Donald Byrd and Betty Carter.
Sir Earl Grice started on the Drums at the advanced age of four, playing for his parents gospel choir in Newark, New Jersey. His early influences include Buddy Rich, Art Blakey, "Papa" Jo Jones and his all time favorite musician is John Coltrane with Elvin Jones. Earl also has impressive credits as an actor, he's appeared in over forty films and television productions starting with a Bronx Tale in 1992. As a drummer Sir Earl has appeared with Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Stevie Wonder and George Benson.