Classically trained guitarist Lawson Rollins made some great music with the duo of Young and Rollins, and has now reached even loftier heights with his debut solo CD. It’s produced by Shahin Shahida, whom you might know from the Iranian guitar duo group Shahin & Sepehr. Shahida brings a touch of Persian, Arabic and Indian musical styles to a sound that still leans heavily on flamenco, bossa nova and Latin jazz. Lawson called on Brazilian vocal legend Flora Purim to add graceful vocals to the title track, which has found some success on smooth jazz radio. Purim returns on the bouncy “Café Jobim,” a superb piece of Brazilian pop. Both songs, by the way, feature Purim’s renowned husband, Airto Moreira, on percussion and background vocals.
The simultaneously haunting and uplifting strains of rumba are in the forefront on such tunes as “Echoes of Madrid,” where Charlie Bisharat’s violin contributes to the drama. Bisharat also adds his touch to the exotic songs “The Awakening” and “In Motion.” More highlights come with tunes like “Through the Night” and “New World Raga,” where Rollins’ lightning-fast picking is exhilarating while not being too showy. “Southwind” and “Streets of San Miguel” are two others to listen to again and again. The latter offers a wonderfully dusty, cowboy-like trumpet solo by Thomas McColl of the Erzgebirgische Philharmonic in Germany.