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CD REVIEW: Lawson Rollins - Infinita
By Don Sechelski - 06/04/2008 - 09:17 AM EDT

Artist: Lawson Rollins
Album: Infinita
Label: Infinita Records
Genre: Blend of Jazz, World, and Flamenco
Sounds Like: smooth jazz
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
CD Review:

I have to admit it. I had never heard of Lawson Rollins. You can now count me as an avid fan. When I first opened his new CD, Infinita, I was intrigued by the eclectic mix of supporting players. Tops on the list for me was Brazilian jazz chanteuse, Flora Purim. Her six octave range has enhanced music from Chick Corea and Dizzy Gillespie to the Grateful Dead and Santana. Her husband, percussion legend Airto Moreira contributes also. Others joining Rollins include Afghan vocalist Humayun Khan, Azerbaijani kamanche master Imamyar Hassanov and Pejman Hadidi on tombak. Grammy winning violinist Charlie Bisharat, bassist Randy Tico, trumpeter Jeff Elliot and drummer-percussionist Dave Bryant round out the cast.

When the jazzy, bossa nova rhythm of the first cut Cafe Jobim began, I was hooked. Flora Purim's impeccable vocal, Jeff Eliot's trumpet, and Airto Moreira' percussion were magical. But the true star was Lawson Rollins' guitar work. Rollins is a rare talent. This blend of his impeccable flamenco guitar with a variety of world beats is a tour de force. The second cut, Echoes of Madrid illustrates that so perfectly. His Andalusian flamenco style blends perfectly with Bisharat's violin and the rhythms put down by Dave Bryant. The Awakening highlights Hassanov's kamanche, a Persian bowed spike fiddle. Intertwine it with Rollins' dramatic flamenco guitar and Bisharat's violin and the result is evocative and stirring.

The title track, Infinita, returns to Bossa Nova with Purim on vocals once more. This smooth jazz track features Rollins' soaring guitar with Moreira on percussion, producer Shahin Shahida on vibes and electric piano with co producer Dominic Camardella on Rhodes piano. New World Raga takes us to another part of the world as Rollins, Hassanov, et al explore Indian rhythms.

Through it all, Rollins' guitar is the unifying force. He is a virtuoso master of his instrument. I am now an avid Lawson Rollins fan. Listen to Infinita and you will be also.

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