The Spanish guitar is one of the most romantic and exotic instruments in the world of music, in my opinion. Artists like Jesse Cook, Ottmar Liebert, Johannes Linstead, and countless others have flourished by mastering it. Guitarist/composer Lawson Rollins shows here on his solo debut release, Infinita, that he is not to be outdone as he travels through this project with fluidity and acuity.
Rollins has enjoyed success as ½ of the Latin guitar duo, Young & Rollins, and has finally succumbed to the voice within that I’m sure convinced him to go it alone on a project or two. This album, co-produced by one of the finest musicians of the World/Jazz/New Age era, Shahin Shahida of Shahin and Sepehr fame, has much flavor and the intense romanticism and rhythm usually associated with really fine Latin music, of which I am an immense fan. Here, Rollins shows how easy it is to intermix this style of music with other appealing elements. Granted, this may not necessarily be a unique approach, but he certainly places his own signature touch to it nonetheless.
The light, gentle opener, a Brazilian teaser obviously acknowledging the great composer, Jobim, warmly glides along with a complete sense of island contentment and finesse. The exotic and pure vocals of Flora Purim accentuate the obvious here: That this is a piece for lovers. That’s followed by a searing Latin inferno at track 2, "Echoes of Madrid" and the Spanish flair of "In Motion." On the title track, we’re again treated to the soft and beautiful vocals of Flora Purim, along with the very mellow and seductive backing vocals of a few others, which make the tune not only hotter but very sultry in the midst of its moderate, swaying island rhythm. The magical way in which Rollins is able to interweave the Latin, Arabic, Persian, and Indian cultures into pieces like "Ceremony" and "New World Raga" only demonstrates just how well connected he is to the very idea of multiculturalism, much in the manner embraced by those fellow "connected" artists like Shahin & Sepehr and Strunz & Farah. As we near the end of the album, the trumpet, used in that trademark majestic fashion often reserved for Latin music, makes its most pronounced appearance on the album in "Streets of San Miguel." This instrument, in such an exotic setting, has always been very intriguing to me. It almost always paints such a vivid and proud image.
Yes, again, the Spanish guitar is one of the most romantic and exotic instruments in the world of music, in my opinion. Coupled with the right personnel, intensity, and romantic flair, it can be absolutely irresistible. As demonstrated here, Lawson Rollins is very much aware of this successful combination. Infinita: Quite a warm, diverse, and colorful winner.