Elevation: A Global Musical Journey with Lawson Rollins

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Dec 08, 2011 / 0 comments

One of my favorite musicians is guitarist Lawson Rollins. We've interviewed him here at Wandering Educators - click through to read of his background and inspiration, as well as explore his last cd, Espirito. Lawson is a world-renowned composer and classical guitarist. His virtuosity is unparallelled, and is a joy to listen to.


Lawson has released a new cd that includes an all-star musical ensemble, recorded in Iran, Nepal, and the U.S. The cd featurs Persian-American musician Shahin Shahida, multi-platinum producer Dominic Camardella, avant-garde guitar legend Buckethead, veteran producer William Aura, Nepali flute star Ruben Shrestha, tabla master Raju Maharjan, Grammy-winning violinist Charlie Bisharat, and many more renowned musicians.


The influences from Nepal and Iran, especially, make the global traveler in me so very happy, hearing sarangi, flute, tabla, madal, and damaru drums.


Global trends also play a central role in this cd - co-producer Shahin Shahida was in Iran during the summer uprisings of 2010 and recorded santur-player Pejman Ekhtiari in Esfahan for album track "Persian Night." "It's almost a document of the heated atmosphere of that historical summer in Iran," says Rollins. Shahin also recorded the vocals for "Voyager's Tale" that summer in Iran, the lyrics derived from the Persian classical poet Hafez and sung in Farsi. Additional production was contributed by William Aura, a program coordinator and Nepal specialist for Playing For Change, a multimedia music project and foundation that builds music schools around the world. He recorded Nepali musicians in Kathmandu for several tracks on the album including Kirin Nepali on sarangi, Ruben Kumar Shrestha on flute and Raju Maharjan on tabla.


We asked Lawson about his inspiration...

Coming off my last album "Espirito" it really was a challenge to decide what direction to go in next, but when I wrote the title track "Elevation" early on in the process of making the new album, a direction emerged to make the music as emotionally intense as possible and create room for the songs to build and grow in more of a cinematic fashion rather than adhere to the tighter song structure I had previously been working within. I refer to the songs in "Elevation" as soundscapes that are meant to take the listener on an emotional, musical journey over the course of the 74 minutes of music. I assembled the widely eclectic ensemble of musicians for "Elevation" to add to the dramatic effect, including some wonderful musicians recorded in Nepal and Iran. Together, we infuse each track with moments of intensity that elevate the music to emotionally-charged high-points, followed by periods of spaciousness and calm. The concern was more with conveying a feeling and mood rather than a catchy melody, and this became a motif throughout the entire album.


I have to admit, these thirteen songs have made their way into our lives and hearts, giving us such joy and listening pleasure. Once again, Lawson Rollins has crafted a work of pure genius and talent, a musical journey that explores the world and shares its beauty.  Highly recommended!