2008 / Infinita Records
Review by Michael Debbage
Flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook, Johannes Linstead and Benise over the last few years have dominated the genre that they are so closely associated with. After listening to Lawson Rollins' solo debut the question remains is do they need to make room for this breathtaking guitarist? The answer is both yes and no as Rollins has created a wonderful musical experience that it is a kaleidoscope of genres and sub genres way beyond flamenco to also include salsa, samba, Bossa Nova and a sprinkling of jazz that he defies such a specific categorization.
While the name Lawson Rollins may be new to many, his previous musical experience came from his four collaborations with Daniel Young and their aptly titled partnership Young & Rollins. While the team still exists, there are currently no recordings on the agenda. Fans of this duo will certainly find joy in Rollins’ solo creation; however, they will need to enter into the wider world of Infinita with a much greater global musical expectation.
Produced by Rollins along with Shahin Shahida of the Persian-American duo Shahin & Sepehr assisted by Dominic Camardella, the opening track “Café Jobim” sets the stage for an international flavor that will leave your ears fully attuned. Further worldly influences can be heard on the affable salsa sway of the title track to the outright exotic and adventurous Middle Eastern influenced “New World Raga”. Quite the contrary on “Ceremony” that adds a pizzazz of jazz to its world groove.
This is not to say that Rollins is incapable of a more mainstream effort as found on “Echoes Of Madrid” that echoes the styling of Jesse Cook while featuring violinist Charlie Bisharat. Perhaps the most commercially viable effort comes courtesy of the soft and melodic breezes of “Southwind” where Rollins is also prominent on electric guitar. It is a magical musical experience and it is certainly one of the album's many highlights.
With the infinite musical exploration, guitarist extraordinaire Lawson Rollins has presented us with a solo debut that upon first listen is challenging. However, repeat visitations to your hi-fi player will create a listening experience that becomes more enduring with each encore. Watch out for Rollins because if this debut is any reflection of what is in store from this artist then you can expect the unexpected.
August 8, 2008