To The Surface
Release Date: February 2, 2024
Label: Rhythm ‘N’ Flow Records

A native of St. Louis, the New York-based pianist has made his indelible mark on the jazz scene over the past decade alongside Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah, Branford Marsalis, Terri Lyne Carrington, and especially Joe Lovano, as a member of the saxophonist’s Classic Quartet, Sax Supreme Quartet with Chris Potter, and Sound Prints, with Dave Douglas. Fields’ soulful sound and thoughtful approach has shaped the harmonic ethos of dozens of hallmark recordings over the past decade. Now, Fields’ new trio combines a musical grasp of the past and the present and operates with a fluid, spontaneous approach to interplay on his first bandleader recording, To The Surface, alongside bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Corey Fonville.

Seldom in the jazz idiom does an artist come along with a winning trifecta of thoughtful nuance, individuality, and a balance of tradition and innovation. It is these qualities that have cemented Fields’ stature and prominence in the field, and has led to the pianist being named as a Rising Star by DownBeat Magazine for the last five consecutive years. To The Surface proves what many audiences across the world already hold to be true — Lawrence Fields holds a unique voice on the piano, he is a true artist whose passion shines through with every note played. Fields’ goal with his debut album was to create “honest music”. Fields indicates that to him, honest music is playing that communicates directly with the listeners and prioritizes passion over perfection. He remarks, “It’s this sort of music that has had the biggest influence on me throughout my life, and I want to share a distinct, personal sound that faithfully reflects who I am.”

“The album’s title, To the Surface, represents the literal bringing to the surface of ideas, sounds, and compositions that have been building up for years. It also represents a particularly meaningful phase of my life, where I accumulate things that I’ve shared through the music of others to date, and transition into bringing my own vision more to the forefront.”

Fields comes out of the gate with a blistering melodic intensity right at the start of the album’s very first track, “Parachute”, as if to say ‘now is my time, and I have much to say.’ The piece captures joyful and bittersweet feelings which Fields remarks are “hard to express in words, yet simple to communicate through notes”. “New Season Blues” is born from the excitement, anticipation, and sense of the unknown that accompanies the changing of seasons. The composition features an extended solo piano section which seems to exemplify the vulnerability of change, which climaxes as Nakamura and Fonville enter. Nakamura offers a masterful solo, before the group descends back into the tune’s repeated harmonic refrain, featuring stellar rhythmic invention from Fonville.

Moving On” is inspired by the passing of someone close to Fields, the piece encompasses both the celebration of their gifts and the wistful feelings of loss. This masterful trio takes the listener on a journey of pain and recovery, grief and acceptance - the three players reach a synergy here rarely heard in ensembles of modern day. Fields writes, “this music represents the value of friendship. I couldn’t have asked for better companions than Corey [Fonville] and Yasushi [Nakamura], and their combination of warmth, love, energy and mastery gives life to each moment of the record. The song “Yasorey” is named for both of them, and it showcases the magic that happens when their flavorful and eloquent styles of playing combine.”

The album’s title track “To The Surface” is a masterwork of harmonic expression. The track, and the album as a whole, portrays perfectly the agony and ecstasy of creation - the vulnerability and confidence inherent in sharing yourself with others, and ultimately, the release that is felt after expressing one’s self.

The bandleader shares, “I’ve been waiting to express so many things, and this album is just the beginning of that process. It’s something that excites me greatly. At this moment in my life, the timing feels right, and I’m thrilled to be bringing all of this “To the Surface” to share with all of you.

LANCE LIDDLE
BEBOP SPOKEN HERE
"It's a great album and, although the piano trio field is a crowded one both past and present, this one is, nevertheless, a must to check out." Check out the full review here.

DEE DEE MCNEIL
MUSICAL MEMOIR 
"He plays solo on this one, showing off his harmonic consciousness in the creative chords he chooses." Check out the full review here.

BURAK SÜLÜNBAZ
DARK BLUE NOTES  
"Fields has turned the creation story, which could be considered a cliché, into a memorable album with his whirlwind music and his unique approach" Check out the full review here.

DEE DEE McNEIL
MAKING A SCENE
"The melody is catchy, with the first five notes reminiscent of a song I heard as a kid." Check out the full review here.

RICHARD B. KAMINS
STEP TEMPEST 
"This is "can't sit still" creative music at its best, the powerful drums and thundering bass clearing a path for the pianist's flying fingers, the blend of muscular chords and rapid-fire single note lines shining brightly." Check out the full review here.

CRAIG BYRD
CULTURAL ATTACHE
"Pianist/composer Fields is someone to get to know NOW." Check out the full review here.

PHIL FREEMAN
STEREOGUM
"Fields’ style is old school but forward-looking; his playing on the album opener, “Parachute,” reminds me of the late Chick Corea in the way he blends ornateness and almost classical flourishes with a forceful sense of swing." Check out the full review here.

TAK TOKIWA
JAZZ LIFE
Check out this review in Japanese here.

TURGAY YALÇIN
DARK BLUE NOTES
"Fields makes a great start to his recording career with his clear expressions that speak directly to his audience, his determined sentences that cannot be doubted to be his own, his musical presentation that grasps the stage, his playing in perfect harmony with his accompanists, and his beautiful compositions." Check out the full review in Turkish here.

JAMIE LEE RAKE
SHEPHERD EXPRESS
"After a decade of contributing his pensively fluid jazz pianism to other artists’ recordings, Lawrence Fields makes his debut leading a trio to showcase his keyboard innovations. " Check out the full review here.

NIKKI BIRCH
NPR
Check out this feature on the editor's playlist here.

AYANA CONTRERAS
DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE
"Fields’ introductory solo in “Moving On” brings to mind a harpist’s arpeggios, a tranquil prelude before the song explodes into a spirited bop." Check out the full review here.

GEORGE W. HARRIS
JAZZ WEEKLY
"He has a nice and clean style, warm and bluesy like Wynton Kelly as ON “Parachute” and shows his dark side on an intricate “To The Surface”." Check out the full review here.

DAVID SUMNER
BANDCAMP
" Each individual note resonates like crazy, even as it flows into the next and the one after, building up to a succession of stunning peaks." Check out the full review on their Best on Bandcamp February playlist here.

MIKE GREENBLATT
THE AQUARIAN
"He roared out of St. Louis, landing in New York City as a go-to guy with fire in his fingers." Check out the full review here.

MIKE JURKOVIC
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"Clean, confident and imminently soulful, the playing is fast and emotive like sitting in on a real good session on a late Saturday night." Check out the full review here.