Longitudes & Latitudes
2016 / LMB Music
Review by Michael Debbage
A person addicted to the wanderlust of life has a somewhat difficulty in being committed to any given place. They are always on the move desirous of seeking out the next exotic locale adventure. So what happens when a musical artist has the same desires? You get a focused hodgepodge musical genre bender called Longitudes & Latitudes that has the attitude for adventure as expressed beautifully here by guitarist Lawrence Blatt.
While it has only been 2 years since his prior recording Emergence, it is alleged that Longitudes & Latitudes has been 5 years in the making. From cover art to the musical tracks that you are about to hear makes that wait so worthwhile. With his prior recordings being somewhat of a mellow affair, though this element is present here, it is not the emphasis. Frankly, Blatt has put no limiters on his explorations with the musical theme being somewhat more upbeat and energetic and of course very international. This is most distinguishable on the flamenco influenced “Noches De Barcelona”. That said the energetic theme begins immediately with the opening track “Two Shades of Sunshine” where Blatt’s guitar work merges with Premik Russell Tubbs’ smokin’ alto saxophone work. Similar results can be found on “Two Steps Down The Line” deeper into the album sequence.
However, Lawrence consistently keeps you on your toes moving seamlessly from the toe tappers to the reflective with the perfection of a chameleon lizard adjusting to its own surroundings. Moody melancholy moments can be found on “Park Lane” that features Jeff Oster on the muted trumpet and flugelhorn. But the most stripped down performance can be located on the short and concise “The Places Left Behind” that is all Blatt and his acoustic guitar only to be outdone by his ukulele presentation on “Over The Rainbow” that effectively concludes this wonderful album.
In between the energetic to reflective self compositions there are equally impressive mid tempo instances of genius. There is the complete “A Place In Your Heart” only to be outdone by the more percussive driven “Open Fields And Running Water” that even features producer Will Ackerman on ambient electric guitar and the joyful piano work of Kori Linae Carothers. For that matter there are many impressive contributions from Ackerman’s A Team session player throughout the album. However, the focal point of this audio trek is featuring the compositions and guitar work of Lawrence Blatt.
One of the advantages of being a reviewer is that you are exposed to new music that you may have never found. One of the disadvantages is the deluge of music coming in your door that you sometimes overlook it. Lawrence Blatt was one of those musicians but not this time around. Not being familiar with his past work it is hard to say whether or not this is his best recording to date. But considering the audio visual delight of Longitudes & Latitudes from cover to music of roaming exploration it would certainly be safe to say so. That said Longitudes & Latitudes has sleeper hit of 2016 written all over it.
January 14, 2017
Review by Kathy Parsons