Music Professor's Power of Ten Big Band Powers to the Top of Radio Playlists

February 23, 2012

"Earth Tones," the new jazz CD from Music Professor Rick Lawn's Power of Ten big band, is gaining coast-to-coast radio play and moving up the jazz charts.

The album features original compositions and arrangements by the former dean of the College of Performing Arts performed by Power of Ten, a powerful little big band comprising some of Philadelphia's finest jazz musicians.

As of February 22, "Earth Tones" is No. 75 on the Jazzweek radio play list. It was featured on the "Jazz After Hours Playlist with Jim Wilke," a Public Radio International syndicated show, and on J. Michael Harrison's "The Bridge" on Philadelphia's iconic jazz station, WRTI.

"This project was designed in part as a way for me to transition back to a life as a musician and as a member of the School of Music faculty after serving as CPA dean for the past nine years," said Lawn. "But the project has been on my mind for some time as a way to galvanize a group of exceptional music faculty by forming a faculty ensemble. Jazz schools deserve such a presence just as classical programs with resident string quartets. I think we accomplished that, and the widespread radio play around the country has been an added reward for all of us that I frankly did not count on. We just set out to create some music that people might want to listen to more than once."

A composer, author, performer and educator, Lawn has devoted nearly 40 years to jazz education, scholarship and creative work. He was the founding director of the Jazz Studies program at the University of the Arts, chair of its Music department and associate dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Grants from the National Endowment of the Arts have supported his work as a composer, and as a member of the Nova Saxophone Quartet, he has recorded on the Musical Heritage Society, Crystal and Equilibrium labels.

Lawn's books, The Jazz Ensemble Directors Manual, Jazz Theory and Practice and Experiencing Jazz, have become staples among jazz educators and students. He has performed with artists such as Lionel Hampton, Chuck Mangione, Rosemary Clooney, the Rochester Philharmonic and Austin Symphony among many others, including numerous Broadway shows. Lawn continues to perform with Compass, a jazz quartet that has been playing together for almost 40 years.

Jazzblogwatch (UK): "A recommendation of the highest order. A classy new release from the man behind the ultra rare 'Compass Rises' private press on schoolhouse records, Ohio. These guys should be supported and heard. Drop by Rick's place and find out more ..."

This blog entry has now been picked up in several other countries in multiple languages.
All About Jazz highlights: "The most striking and pleasurable aspects of Lawn's arrangements are the beautiful sonorities he creates by combining instruments with different colorations…The overall sound is a stone's throw from Maria Schneider's big band arrangements. The orchestrations are cinematic…"

"Lawn has put together a set of tunes and arrangements in the mainstream post-bop idiom that are consistently listenable with a touch of humor…And the felicitous addition of trumpet master George Rabbai makes this an album to be savored and remembered."

Philadelphia Inquirer review highlights: "…self-produced recording is a clean, transparent effort that invites more people in the jazz tent…the set maintains a strong mainstream jazz focus… Much of it exudes a clean aesthetic à la Gil Evans, whose influence can be heard…"

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