Artists rarely get paid in relation to how beautifully they create or how much their art pleases us — but if that were the case, the subtly brilliant pianist Chris Dawson would be a wealthy man.
Here’s the evidence, twice:
Victor Young’s aptly named BEAUTIFUL LOVE*:
A souvenir from Fats Waller’s 1939 London sojourn, PICCADILLY:
So, as you can easily hear, Mr. Dawson is a man of many talents: he can sweetly rhapsodize in a most restrained, elegant manner — not an extra note in an hour — with a beautiful touch. And he can swing out in the best hot manner, evoking Fats, Nat Cole, Mel Powell, Teddy Wilson . . . imitating no one, staking his own claim.
Because he is based in Southern California, Chris is — to my way of thinking — both a National Treasure and a Well-Kept Secret . . . but ask musicians about him — Jean-Francois Bonnel, Connie Jones, Tim Laughlin, Clint Baker, Dawn Lambeth, Dan Barrett, Hal Smith — and they will agree with me.
If you find yourself deep down South (down Santa Monica way) in the next few days, Chris is playing two gigs . . .
The “South Bay Swing Combo” will be appearing this Friday night, August 10, beginning at 6:30PM, at DeLuca Trattoria, 225 Richmond Street, El Segundo, California: 310.640.7600. Musicians who have eaten there say the food is delicious and the atmosphere relaxed. Chris will be playing with two fine improvisers: Bryan Shaw, trumpet; Albert Alva, reeds.
The other appearance is a solo recital on Sunday, August 12, at 5:00pm in PDT at Mt Olive Lutheran Church Elca, on 1343 Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica, California 90405. The telephone number is 310.452.1116.
I’m beginning the one-man JAZZ LIVES campaign to make sure that everyone hears Chris and that wise concert / party / festival promoters put his name at the top of their lists. Anyone want to join me in this endeavor?
*As an experiment, play BEAUTIFUL LOVE for someone who can’t see the screen or identify Chris. Ask the listener who’s playing — my guess is that all sorts of august names (Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Bill Evans) will come up — which is praise for Chris and more evidence that he should be better known.
May your happiness increase.