Longitudes & Latitudes
2016 / LMB Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
I have been a big fan of Lawrence Blatt’s music since his first solo guitar album of original compositions, Out of the Woodwork, landed in my mailbox almost ten years ago. Longitudes & Latitudes is his third album recorded (mostly) at Imaginary Road Studios and produced by Will Ackerman. Five years in the making, this album is a celebration of many of the places Blatt has visited around the world and the rich beauty and diversity of our planet. The album features fourteen original pieces and one arrangement (“Over the Rainbow”) performed on a variety of guitars and other instruments by Blatt and the always exceptional group of collaborating artists at Imaginary Road. The great Premik Russell Tubbs (sax and electric woodwinds) appears on five tracks, giving the overall album a jazzy, upbeat feeling that I really like. Blatt always has intriguing liner notes with his albums, and this time he includes the places that inspired each piece with their longitudes and latitudes as well as the guitar tunings for each piece.
Longitudes & Latitudes begins with “Two Shades of Sunshine,” an easy-going jazz piece that puts Premik Russell Tubbs out in front on alto sax. Acoustic guitar (Blatt), Hammond organ (Tom Eaton), piano (Kelly Park), electric bass (Sam Bevan) and percussion (Jeff Haynes) get this one effortlessly soaring skyward. The title track features Blatt on three different guitars along with Ackerman, Park, Bevan, and Haynes. Rhythmic yet relaxed, it’s a soothing toe-tapper. “A Place In Your Heart” has Blatt on three guitars and synth plus Tubbs on electric woodwind playing a gently-swaying slow dance that is oh so romantic. “Open Fields and Running Water” features Kori Linae Carothers making a guest appearance on piano, along with Ackerman and Jeff Oster (flugelhorn). “Two Steps Down the Line” was inspired by the breezy attitude of Blatt’s hometown, San Francisco. The dreamy “Morning In Beerse” is one of three solos by Blatt and makes me wish there were more solos on the album. “Noches de Barcelona” is a really big, exuberant piece that all but dances out of the music player. Blatt performs on two guitars and charengo, Carothers returns on piano, Charlie Bisharat and Lila Sklar on violins, Oster on trumpet, Jim Rothermel on sax, Bevan on acoustic bass and Haynes on percussion. What a great example of the joy of making music! “Flying Over Elis Island” returns to a jazzier style with Blatt, Bisharat and Rothermel (clarinet) leading the way and Park cooking on both piano and drum kit. Reminiscent of a more innocent time, I love this one! My favorite on the album is “Slow Walk Past the Bank,” which features Blatt on three guitars, synth and synth-vibraphone; Tubbs on sax, Park on piano, Eaton on organ, Bevan on electric bass and Haynes on percussion. What makes this one different is the “electric surf guitar” and sax passages - worth the price of the album right there! The final track is Blatt’s expressive arrangement of “Over the Rainbow” for solo ukulele - a poignant ending to an excellent album!
Longitudes & Latitudes is a great album! My only complaint is that I wish Blatt had more guitar solos on the album, but the ensembles are very exciting! The album is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
October 18, 2016