I take advantage of annual “Top 10” lists as one mechanism to discover new music. These lists offer plenty to choose from since they are broken down according to Critics Picks, Reader/Listener/Viewer Picks, Genre, and everything between. One fulfilling discovery this year is Guitarist and Producer Lawson Rollins. He has renewed my excitement about this blog’s favorite musical instrument.
Rollins’ style is the Spanish guitar as characterized by his playing as one half of Young & Rollins. A look at his video The Fire Cadenza on YouTube expresses much more than I can say in words though. I did a double take at first because I could not fathom how such depth comes from such economy of movement. You can download the Guitar Tab for this piece on iTunes courtesy of transcription help from Guitar World's own Andy Aledort. How cool is that?! I downloaded Infinita, Rollins’ first solo album during this same iTunes visit and there is much more going on here than just Spanish guitar.
Infinita is a World Music tour traveling through salsa, samba, and Latin jazz. Rollins throws in some blues, the bossa nova, and flamenco for good measure. He provides virtuoso guitar playing and writes the songs and basic arrangements. He achieves an improvisational feel on the tracks by leaving space for the other players to create their own interpretations for the album. Rollins’ digs deeper into the roots of world music on his second solo album Espirito, which just came out January 19th.
Espirito’s world tour takes on the characteristics of the Amazing Race as it digs into biguine, reggae, son, and swing rhythms. He takes me beyond Spain to hit styles of India, Persia, and the Arab world. This is definitely off the beaten path and worth checking out if you want to expand your horizons or even as music immersion in the event you are scheduled to visit some exotic locale abroad!