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Many believe that the arts mirror what is happening in the world and if that is the case, perhaps Lawson Rollins’ Espirito serves as a monumental soundtrack to the unification of our disparate cultures. The guitarist’s epic thirteen-song collection, to be released January 19th by Infinita Records, which is distributed by Baja/TSR Records, serves as the very definition of World Music with its seamless multicultural mélange of sound, style, composition and performance by musicians reflecting such culturally rich locales as Spain, Brazil, Cuba, Persia, Afghanistan, India and the U.S. Rollins wrote the compositions for the album, his second solo release, which he produced with Shahin Shahida (of the Persian-American World Music group Shahin & Sepehr) and Dominic Camardella (3rd Force, Ottmar Liebert). Preceding the album release at radio will be “Moonlight Samba,” a sensual groove with an enchanting melody along with dexterous guitar soloing by Rollins, classy muted trumpet swatches, and dreamy vocals from Brazilian icon Flora Purim and her husband, master percussionist Airto Moreira.
Espirito evolved from Rollins’ critically-acclaimed debut disc, Infinita (2008), made by the same production trio and the same core ensemble consisting of Purim, Moreira, Grammy-winning violinist Charlie Bisharat (Shadowfax), Afghan vocalist Humayun Khan (harmonium), Jeff Elliot (trumpet), Randy Tico (bass), and Dave Bryant (drums, percussion). As grandiose as Infinita was, Rollins was determined to elevate every aspect of the 66 minutes of music on Espirito by stretching his wanderlust further outside his comfort zone, weaving a greater unifying theme throughout the compositions, assembling an even more diverse cast of players from all over the world, and utilizing a larger spectrum of sound captured in maximum fidelity. Three of Infinita’s tracks - “Café Jobim,” “In Motion,” and the title track - scored major radioplay, and Espirito is primed with radio playlist possibilities. Songs like “Rumba del Sol” and the title track are festive, fun and celebratory. “Return to Rio” is whimsical while “Blue Mountain Bolero” is an exotic romancer. “Cape Town Sky” is constantly changing tempo while a gorgeous contemplative melody hovers radiantly above the horizon. The album concludes with “The Caravan Trilogy” – “Migration,” “Shadowland” and “Into the Light” – a poetic passage through time and geography spanning music’s migration from east to west starting in India and passing through Persia, the Middle East, Spain and onto the New World.
“I love the hybrid quality of World Music and how it allows for cross-cultural communication and exchange. The Spanish guitar is a true manifestation of the commingling of cultures with its ties to the Arabic oud, the Persian tar, even the Indian sitar, so drawing on those connections seems natural to me,” Rollins explained. “We took a far-ranging musical journey with the players on Espirito. Near the end (of the record), we slide into the ether. The notes slow down and evaporate into silence, a prayerful conclusion to the album, a moment of thankfulness for the alchemy that took place between the musicians.”
Originally from North Carolina, the San Francisco Bay Area resident was 15 when inspired to study classical guitar after discovering Andres Segovia. Rollins was drawn to Latin jazz, Bossa Nova and Spanish guitar while listening to recordings by jazz legends Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, and Duke Ellington. Rollins developed his own definitive style that incorporated flamenco, Bossa Nova, samba, salsa, Latin jazz, blues and classical nuances while honing a prodigious technical proficiency. In 1998, he partnered with Daniel Young to form Young & Rollins, which released four critically-acclaimed World Music albums, propelling the duo to become an internationally renowned touring act. In 2007, Rollins decided to focus on a solo career in which he would blend music from all over the globe in a panoramic setting containing an unlikely mix of instruments and provide the players an abundance of freedom in which to improvise. Infinita was the first creation. During the Espirito recording process, Rollins took a break to shoot a short solo guitar video clip, “The Fire Cadenza,” which spread virally through YouTube. The clip showcasing Rollins’ incendiary technique swiftly received over two million viewings, which spawned a second clip, “Santa Ana Wind.” Rollins has already begun composing songs for his third solo collection. Additional information is available at www.lawsonrollins.com and www.infinitarecords.com.
Rollins’ Espirito contains the following songs:
“Rumba del Sol”
“Café La Martinique”
“Return to Rio”
“Blue Mountain Bolero”
“Santa Lucia Waltz”
“Cape Town Sky”
“The Caravan Trilogy”: “Migration,” “Shadowland” and “Into the Light”
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