Born: 1970 Primary Instrument: Guitar
When guitarist Lawson Rollins arrived on the World Music scene, he captivated listeners with his electrifying guitar style and expansive musical vision. His genre-defying sound combined the passionate rhythms of salsa and samba, the free-flowing improvisations of Latin jazz, the deep bass tones of the blues, the gentle lilt of the Bossa Nova, the fiery attack of flamenco, and the soaring melodic flight of classical music. Lawson has received worldwide attention through his critically-acclaimed solo albums, widespread radio airplay, eclectic collaborations with other artists, and sensational internet performance videos which have been viewed millions of times to date.
After releasing 4 highly-praised studio albums with his popular guitar duo Young & Rollins, Lawson's 2008 debut solo album INFINITA lived up to its name with a far- reaching series of groundbreaking soundscapes. All About Jazz Magazine called the album “a rewarding gem...easily one of the year's best.” The title track became a certified Billboard Top 30 radio hit in the contemporary jazz genre. The guitarist was praised for his compositional skill and soulful virtuosity. Guitar Player Magazine wrote, “Rollins seduces in so many ways that it's almost unfair. His classical tone is gorgeous, his technique is impeccable, his subtle genre blending is compelling.”
ESPIRITO, Rollins' second solo effort, expanded the vision of INFINITA with thirteen compositions that delved deeply into the roots of World Music. Upon its release, The All Music Guide described ESPIRITO as an “extraordinary musical trip...splendidly exotic, infectiously melodic.” Radio again embraced Lawson's music and the first single from ESPIRITO entitled “Moonlight Samba” hit #1 on the Billboard Recurrent Chart.
The latest album ELEVATION marks an expressive high point for Lawson as both a composer and performer. Over the course of 74 minutes of original music, ELEVATION breaks new ground with an eclectic cast of musicians recorded on-location in Nepal, Iran, and U.S., including avante-garde guitar legend Buckethead, Persian- American musician Shahin Shahida, Nepali flute master Ruben Kumar Shrestha, Iranian santur virtuoso Pejman Eckhtiari, and many more.
Awards:Billboard Top 30 Smooth Jazz Radio Single (April, 2010)- "Moonlight Samba" from Espirito
Billboard Top 30 Smooth Jazz Radio Single (August, 2008)- "Infinita" from Infinita
Vintage Guitar Magazine writes: Lawson's take on the genre features fiery guitar chops and lush, full-bodied orchestrations...Lawson's highly polished approach to guitar playing will impress anyone who appreciates a player with a broad creative palette and finely honed technical expertise.
Music Web Express states: One of the preeminent acoustic guitarists in America today... When it comes to nylon string neoclassical flamenco work, few can touch Rollins. Lawson's latest CD is a full- fledged production featuring a number of gifted players...a thoroughly enjoyable hour or so of instrumental music magic.
World Music Central writes: With Rollins' guitar at the helm of a topflight musical crew, the result is layered, sophisticated, evocative pieces that combine styles and cultures craftily and expertly.
Inside World Music writes, A truly 'world music' journey across styles, countries, and sounds. The intrinsic musical abilities of all involved shine through on every track. Espirito is an album made with all the right ingredients for a delicious result.
The International Review of Music states: On this latest album, Rollins continues to apply his prodigious technique to a far- reaching collection of material. Espirito reaches beyond the familiar areas of Latin jazz with some adventurous compositions and stirring solos...the album is pieced together with purpose and love of music from all corners of the globe.
The Smooth Jazz Ride writes: A consummate diverse production of great quality...Rollins does know his way around the Spanish guitar and shows how to clearly read and absorb the cultures of the world in doing so.
Washington D.C.'s Hill Rag writes: Guitarist Lawson Rollins meticulously chisels his skill, culture and passion into his most ambitious album, Espirito.
Wandering Educators music reviewer Jessie Voigts writes, Lawson has done an incredible feat, joining cultures, musicians, and the world into one joyful cd. His jazz and classical guitar influences, along with his supreme technical proficiency, combine to make one of the best cds I've ever heard.
Smoothjazz.com writes, ESPIRITO, the second solo masterpiece from guitar virtuoso Lawson Rollins...an adventurous amalgam of musical cultures. Having been blown away by its initial spin, it was on subsequent visits where I found the vibrant playfulness of Lawson's musical mastery truly revealed.
Provocative and seductive...[a] masterful genre- busting collection of Latin, Indian, Persian, Arabic, South American and European sounds. --The All Music Guide
Lawson Rollins' Infinita is a rewarding gem... easily one of the year's best. --All About Jazz
In their review of ESPIRITO, All About Jazz writes, “Excellent stuff here from Rollins, once again...His guitar work is even more dynamic and dramatic than the predecessor.
Skilled and graceful fusion that should cause many listeners to sit up and take notice. --Global Rhythm Magazine
Rollins seduces in so many ways that it's almost unfair. His classical tone is gorgeous, his technique is impeccable, his subtle genre blending is compelling, and the cat can play melodies with jaw- dropping, near-demonic speed. --Guitar Player Magazine, Editor in Chief Michael Molenda
It’s impossible to resist the ethnically diverse grooves that drive Lawson Rollins' new multi-cultural solo debut...There’s such great depth to all eleven tracks, don’t be surprised if INFINITA takes up permanent residence in your car CD player or dominates the Most Played list on your iPod. --Smoothjazz.com
Rollins' guitar playing is outstanding and the song collaborations with internationally recognized musicians is phenomenal. I’m so overwhelmed by the musicianship of this CD I find myself somewhat speechless, a rarity indeed. -All Access Magazine
Grade A...a smooth, danceable, exotic journey. --The Salt Lake Tribune
Albums with Young & Rollins:
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