Lawson Rollins

Infinita

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In this site's review of Mosaic, the 2006 release by famed flamenco duo Young & Rollins, mention was made of the magic that happens when "two brilliant players mix attitudes, melodies, rhythms and sensuality." Despite this obvious truth, guitarist Lawson Rollins makes a bold step on his first solo disc to prove that, surrounded by enough world music masters, sometimes one can tango just as well. Interestingly enough, he worked on this masterful genre-busting collection of Latin, Indian, Persian, Arabic, South American. and European sounds with producer Shahin Shahida, half of the popular guitar duo Shahin & Sepehr -- which was mentioned as an example of the dual magic in the other review. While fans will no doubt hope this is just a splendid one-off project and not an indication of a split with Dan Young, Rollins continues to keep amazing company. He starts with vocal great Flora Purim and trumpeter Jeff Elliot on the breezy Brazilian singalong "Café Jobim," sounds some dramatic classically influenced "Echoes of Madrid" with violinist Charlie Bisharat, and enters dreamy retro-soul territory with Purim and vocalist/percussionist Airto Moreira on the loping title track. Like all great recordings in the nouveau flamenco age, Infinita skillfully blends blazing, blistering, and busily percussive tracks like the heavily orchestrated "Through the Night" and the sexy, trippy Middle Eastern dance tune "New World Raga" with gentler, more sensual pieces like the chill-vibing "Southwind" and the floating, new agey "Ceremony." Beyond the names well known to the world music crowd, Rollins enhances his crisp, precise string tones and strumming with Afghan vocalist Humayun Khan, Azerbaijani kamanche master Imamyar Hassanov, and Pejman Hadadi on tombak. Though the famed new age/world music label Higher Octave had long since folded into Narada and Blue Note by the late 2000s, this is the kind of provocative and seductive project they were famous for -- and would be releasing today if they were still around.

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