Jarrod Lawson makes his UK debut

Singer songwriter Jarrod Lawson made a triumphant European debut last night at London’s Ronnie Scott's with two sold out shows.

Singer songwriter Jarrod Lawson made a triumphant European debut last night at London’s Ronnie Scott's with two sold out shows, one of which was streamed live on the internet. His debut self titled album has been the toast of soul music media and caught the ears of jazz fans too. 

Jazz FM listener Steve Brennan was at one of the shows and said, “I can’t think of a debut album that had such an impact on me, apart from maybe Gregory Porter’s. When I heard Jarrod and Farnell were coming I had to be there. I chose the late show as I wanted to experience the excitement of the live performances in Portland that I had read so much about. I was lucky enough to get a table in the front row! The excitement in the room was electric. It was obvious there was a very knowledgable and eager audience and they gave Jarrod and the band a rapturous reception. To be honest he looked rather overwhelmed by it.

“What An absolutely incredible show. There was great rapport with the audience who were treated to 3 songs from his next album, which he promised to try and finish within a year. The highlight for me was a new duet with singer Tahira Memory, a breathtaking, beautiful ballad. Can't wait for his next show in the UK in April.”

Lawson first appeared in 2011 with a cameo appearance on the album ‘Class Is Now In Session’ from his colleague, trumpet and flugelhorn player, Farnell Newton. This album immediately won plaudits on Jazz FM. Lawson’s spiritual, searching lyrics on ‘Everything Is Clear’ announced an artist who had something deeper to say through his music. Album reviews for his independently released debut have cited ‘thinly veiled gospel music’ but his writing clearly has a broader outlook taking in life and love, spirituality, the Universe, Mother Nature and socio-political statements. His song ‘All That Surrounds’ was inspired by a rainy day in Portland, walking and taking in the vibrations and sounds around him as he strolled.

Talking about influences and his spirituality Jarrod told Jazz FM’s Chris Philips, “when I was a child I heard Stevie Wonder’s ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ and it changed my life. It literally changed my whole trajectory. You know I feel like for me, that’s what is lacking in music and when I listen to music I want to hear that. That’s what I love about the Stevie Wonder stuff from the seventies. I want that back in music, that strong spiritual message. Something that’s fulfilling and speaks to social issues.”

It’s easy to hear the influence on Lawson of soul greats Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder. Before his recording debut he posted a video on Youtube singing Stevie’s ‘I Wish’ solo whilst playing the piano. He added the comment: “I've gotten so sick of hearing people cover this tune exactly like it is on the record, SO, I've come up with a funky latin-infused groove which bears no resemblance to the original whatsoever. A wise man once told me, "If your rendition of a cover tune isn't better, OR, just completely different than the original, what's the point?”. Watch the video below.

As a child Lawson vanished for hours on end into his father’s recording studio in California making his own music from the influences he’d absorbed from his family record collection. To begin with his father tutored him but he soon had his own independent ideas on how he should play and sound. 

Later in life the family moved north to a farmstead in Oregon. Lawson makes his UK debut direct from Portland in Oregon, the same city from where Grammy Award winning Esperanza Spalding hails. Farnell Newton, also a well know musician and educator from Portland, is in the band for the UK tour which continues later this week to Leeds (The Wardrobe Tues 7th) and Manchester (Band On The Wall Thurs 9th).

Stay tuned for news on an exclusive Jazz FM live acoustic session from Jarrod Lawson which airs soon. 

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