Chad Lawson

Dear Dorothy: The Oz Sessions

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Few pieces of work have captured the imagination of millions of moviegoers, TV watchers, and jazz musicians more than The Wizard of Oz. The music and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen were used for the first time in films as entire scenes by themselves, sewing the story together and making this the first integrated movie musical. There are various ways to approach this music, mostly legitimate: For example, play it as written (which ain't all that bad given its quality), or try to add some new ideas and interpretations to the score. Chad Lawson and his trio take a tack similar to the one Vince Guaraldi chose in his seminal recording of A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Like Guaraldi, Lawson and his piano trio are not constrained to follow any predetermined script in their interpretation of this ageless music. One might dub their approach as modern, creative swing. Listen, for example, to the take of "Merry Ole Land of Oz," which is not nearly the same as one has heard previously. Rather, it gets dressed up in modern clothes, with Alfred Sergel's drums playing a large role in keeping the music rolling down the path chosen by Lawson. On the other end of the spectrum, "Yellow Brick Road" is done as a bouncing gavotte. Lawson chooses to present "Over the Rainbow" just as it was intended to be -- a song of wonderment, what it would be like to fly beyond the stars to a new magical land. And that's the key that makes this album so engaging. No matter how much Lawson applies modern ideas and concepts to the music, the whimsy and the wonderment of those who watched and continue to watch this masterpiece are never discarded. Recommended.

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