Many people travel from an encapsulated distance, staying at posh brand name hotels and dining under the golden arches while others prefer to explore by blending amongst the natives for a more immersive and organic experience of the actual sights and sounds of a culture. Award-winning guitarist Lawson Rollins lives by the latter philosophy, taking his guitar with him to view and interpret his global journeys. Writing twelve expansive compositions that are wordless diary entries encapsulating his travels, Rollins’s virtuoso guitar parlance speaks a universal language on tales of exhilarating adventure, intriguing mystery and enticing romance on his fifth album, “Traveler,” which will be released by his Infinita Records label and distributed by Baja/TSR Records on February 17.
Rollins’s traveling companion once again is platinum-selling producer-engineer Dominic Camardella, who has shared the helm on each of the guitarist’s previous releases that, like “Traveler,” are audacious border-crossing quests of melodic and rhythmic jazz and world beat. Joining them to create the intricate aural backdrops upon which Rollins unfurls masterful and impassioned fretwork on intercontinental and coast-to-coast exchanges was a noted ensemble comprised of Grammy-winning violinists Mads Tolling and Charlie Bisharat, Randy Tico (bass), Dave Bryant (drums & percussion) and Cameron Stone (cello). On select tracks they were joined by a horn section in addition to contributions from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy members Scotty Morris, Joshua Levy and Karl Hunter. Both Rollins and Camardella added keyboards and piano to the earthy mix on “Traveler” that Rollins describes as “a gypsy jazz amalgamation of travels.”
A Billboard singles chart-topper (“Moonlight Samba”) who has hit both the contemporary jazz (Top 30) and world music (Top 10) albums charts while amassing nearly eight million YouTube views for videos showcasing the guitarist’s mesmerizing technique, Rollins says, "‘Traveler’ is a musical travelogue for me, chronicling some of my journeys in life and evoking some of the places I've lived, visited and returned to in my memory. The album starts with the African-flavored title track 'Traveler' and continues north to Spain ('Barcelona Express' and 'Meeting in Madrid'), France ('Cafe Paris'), Germany (‘Berlin Bossa’) and England (‘Across the Moors’), and then over the Atlantic to Louisiana ('Beyond the Bayou') where I lived for a time after college. Next, we head to California with 'Marching West' and 'Journey Home.' The album concludes with the modern, electronica-infused ‘Urban Trilogy’ that evokes my times spent in New York, London, Tokyo and San Francisco. On this journey, my guitar serves as a kind of filter through which my impressions of the world are processed and expressed in the language of music."
Presaging the album release at radio is “City Electric,” a vibrant, pulsating EDM energizer unlike anything Rollins has ever recorded before. The single starts as one of the most added on this week’s charts.
In December, Rollins won the prestigious 2014 USA Songwriting Competition’s best instrumental song and was the first ever instrumentalist to place third overall in the 20th year of the international contest that attracts 25,000 submissions from 80 countries. The complex and emotional “Shifting Seasons” appears on the artist’s 2013 release, “Full Circle.” Rollins has topped the most-played chart on SiriusXM Radio’s Watercolors resulting in a guest DJ hosting gig. The San Francisco, California-based musician debuted as a solo artist on 2008’s “Infinita” offering an inventive fusion of Latin, Indian, Persian, Arabic, South American and Euro stylings along with a guest appearance by Brazilian jazz vocal legend Flora Purim. Earlier in his career, Rollins partnered with Daniel Young to form Young & Rollins, a duo that crafted an eclectic mélange on four albums of salsa, bossa nova, flamenco, Latin and jazz grooves, hitting the Billboard Top 25.
“Traveler” contains the following songs:
“Meeting in Madrid”
“Beyond the Bayou”
“Across the Moors”
-The Urban Trilogy: