Lawrence Blatt

Press

PRWeb

Lawrence Blatt, the Bay Area Guitarist/Composer, Explores the World in New Album 'Longitudes and Latitudes'

 

 

Produced by Grammy Award-winning guitarist and Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman, this 15-track set is a soulful, exotic, and stylistically-diverse musical travelogue, with each tune penned in one of Lawrence Blatt's favorite places around the globe (longitudes and latitudes included).

 

Many instrumental artists use clever and exotic song titles to invite listeners to share their passion for adventure and unique places. Guitarist and composer Lawrence Blatt may be the first in history, however, to create an entire travelogue featuring song titles reflecting where the tunes were written, and – in line with the uniquely geographic theme of his latest album Longitudes and Latitudes – the exact latitude and longitude of each locale.

Accumulated over the course of his world travels over the past decade, the 15-track collection fulfills the independent artist’s mission to create a more upbeat, percussive sonic experience, featuring tracks written everywhere from Makawao, Hawaii (“Two Shades of Sunshine”) and Florence, Italy (“A Place In Your Heart”) to London (“Hyde Park Bench”), Huangshan, China (“Open Fields and Running Water”), Beerse, Belgium (“Morning in Beerse”) and his hometown of San Francisco (“Two Steps Down The Line”).

In his liner notes, after a colorful explanation of how the early Greek explorers derived the idea of creating a gridded map of the world, Blatt moves past the science to make the emotional mission of his fifth album clear.

“I have been fortunate in my life to have traveled to many places on our planet and this album was inspired by the beauty and diversity of our rich planet.” He adds, “If you listen from beginning to end, you’ll hear that the songs speak to each other from one to the next, creating the effect of a long and soulful journey.”

Helping Blatt achieve the perfect harmonic flow from track to track is Grammy-winning acoustic guitarist (and founder of legendary new age label Windham Hill Records) Will Ackerman, who previously helmed Blatt’s critically-acclaimed recordings The Color of Sunshine (2009) and Emergence (2014).

Speaking of his dynamic working relationship with Blatt, Ackerman says, “The greatest compliment I can give any musician is that they sound uniquely like themselves; that there is a unifying sound and feeling to their composition and playing that could only come from them. Lawrence Blatt is certainly a guitarist and composer in that rare group. Graceful melodies and flowing grooves seem to come to him with ease. He’s established an impressive body of compositions that only seem to become more compelling emotionally and ever more accessible with time and maturity.”

Stylistically, Blatt’s global muse includes everything from ambient acoustic new age to soulful contemporary jazz, light funk, flamenco and traditional '30s styled jazz. He achieves this diversity via a colorful array of guitars, including the EVD custom acoustic, EVD custom nylon, the Tacoma Thunder Chief baritone, the Gibson J200 acoustic, Foggy Bottom acoustic, PRS Electric, Gibson Emmylou Harris, Perlman custom, Ladder based acoustic and, one of Blatt’s favorites, an Island Ukulele.

Fans of Blatt’s previous works, including his solo acoustic debut, the Independent Music Award nominee Out of the Woodwork (2006) and its follow-up, Fibonacci’s Dream (2007), will notice on Longitudes and Latitudes that he’s incorporating more drums, percussion and percussive guitar techniques including “scraping” and tapping on the wood itself. Over the course of his career, he’s proven a master of playing off of the harmonies of ensembles featuring eclectic instrumentation, so as to approximate how we interact with the intricate harmonies and vibrations of the natural world. His goal is always to convey emotion and melody – even if that means having his guitar play a secondary role.

In addition to Ackerman on the Klein Acoustic Guitar, the new album features the Hammond B-3 organ (Tom Eaton), piano (Kelly Park, Kori Linae Carothers), saxophone (Premik Russell Tubbs, Melecio Magdaluyo), electric bass (Sam Bevan), electric guitar (Marc Shulman), violin (Charlie Bisharat, Lila Sklar), clarinet (the late Jim Rothermel), flugelhorn (Jeff Oster) and percussion (Jeff Haynes).

One of Blatt’s favorite “outside of the box” tracks is the classic old time jazz romp “Flying Over Ellis Island,” which he wrote literally doing that, reflecting upon the experience of immigrants. It begins with an Eastern European-inspired vibe before evolving into a ’30s Benny Goodman sound via Rothermel’s whimsical clarinet and Bisharat’s violin. Other tracks that Blatt feels capture the freewheeling, stylistically expansive approach of Longitudes and Latitudes are the magical, high octane Spanish flamenco jam “Noches de Barcelona”; the easy flowing mid-tempo sax driven ballad “Two Steps Down The Line”; the trippy, infectious and whimsical “IMA” (written at the Indianapolis Museum of Art), which features Tubbs’ soaring electronic woodwind melody; and his graceful acoustic ukulele arrangement of “Over The Rainbow,” which closes the set.

Connecting perfectly with and as an extension to his long, successful career in the biotechnology field, Longitudes and Latitudes is the fourth of Blatt’s recordings driven by a mathematical or scientific concept. Delving deeply into harmonic structure, each album, in its own way, explores the intricate connections and intersecting patterns in music and nature. Fibonacci’s Dream was named after one of the Middle Ages’ greatest mathematicians and featured songs that that used Fibonacci’s “Golden Ratio” numbers to inspire the way he approached the chords, melodies and rhythms.

The Color of Sunshine explored the connection of sound and light as waveforms with unique frequencies; “Light is the energy waveform and sound is the movement of air,” says Blatt, “and both have a frequency.” He wrote each song in correspondence with a color, and ordered the album by the colors of the spectrum. Blatt’s liner notes for Emergence discussed the complex patterns of the natural world and the scientific meaning of the title word. All of his recordings include the specific tunings for each track.

“Science influences my writing, but in my opinion, there is truly no divide between art and science,” says Blatt. “They are just different sides of the same thing. If I look at a field of flowers, I can respond to their beauty, or I can describe the petals in mathematical terms, because they are arranged in Fibonacci sequences. Connecting these patterns in my music, and breaking them down to their core components helps me look at everything in a deeper way. I’ve been writing music this way for so long that it's now second nature.”

Longitudes & Latitudes is available on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, and all digital platforms.

Visit LawrenceBlatt.com for music, videos, images and Lawrence’s complete discography.

TheCelebrityCafe.com

 

 

Lawrence Blatt releases 'Emergence'

By Chelsea Lewis ,
Author Rating: 
4.0 Stars - Very Good

Lawrence Blatt has released his latest album Emergence. Emergence has a calming and structured sound that will pull the listening audience in from the start and capture their attention as it tells a story with each track that helps to form a larger musical picture.

Blatt is an award winning guitarist who has a strong passion for blending new age elements along with classic elements of music. Complex patterns can be heard throughout Emergence, that feel modern yet classic with a slight folk influence.

An interesting element that went into the production of this album was that Blatt recorded a very traditional guitar pattern and allowed other artists and musicians to bring their own solo instruments and add to the track. This window into such creativity and expression can be heard throughout the album and helps to build up a complex and full sound on every track.

The instruments are each given their own solo time on the tracks but when everything comes together it feels like a modern take on a very traditional music style.

Some fans might find this music to be not as as attention grabbing as music that is featured on the top 40 charts today but this type of creativity and musical progression is the root in which those top 40 songs are based.

It will be interesting to see what direction Blatt heads in next and if at any point he would be willing to blend his musical working with vocals.

"Where the Pines Once Stood," "Walking Among Tulips" and "The Place Where Monarchs Go" are stand out tracks on Emergence.

Mainlypiano.com

 

Emergence

Lawrence Blatt

2014 / LMB Music

44 minutes

"I love Blatt’s three earlier recordings, but think Emergence is his best album yet."....Kathy Parsons for Mainlypiano.com

 

Emergence is guitarist Lawrence Blatt’s fourth album of original music. Produced by Will Ackerman, the album is comprised of three guitar solos and nine ensemble pieces that feature stellar musicians often found on Ackerman productions, including Charlie Bisharat (violin), Eugene Friesen (cello), Lila Sklar (violin and viola), and Jill Haley (English horn). All twelve pieces are exceptional even without knowing how the music was created, but a bit of knowledge about Blatt’s inspiration and composing process brings an even greater appreciation for the beauty of the music. The scientific concept of “emergence” states that diverse patterns can be derived from simple rules, often leading to unexpected results. Intrigued by the biological applications of “emergence,” Blatt utilized some of the basic principles to create the music for this album. He wrote the basic guitar part for each piece by strictly adhering to musical rules of chord progression and scale theory. No written parts were given to the other musicians. Instead, Blatt instructed them on the “allowable” movement based on musical theory and practice. Despite those restrictions, the music is fluid, accessible, and often very emotional. Blatt has combined science, math, and music on his previous recordings, so it is only mildly surprising to learn that he has a PhD in science. Classically-trained on violin for about ten years, Blatt started learning the guitar at the age of twelve and became part of the Indiana folk scene while continuing his classical studies. With such a varied background, it is no wonder that Blatt brings such a wealth of experience to his music, which is (happily) very difficult to classify. I love Blatt’s three earlier recordings, but think Emergence is his best album yet.

 

Emergence begins with “A Promise in the Woods,” a lovely guitar solo. The title track is a gorgeous duet with Charlie Bisharat that allows both artists to really shine by demonstrating their heartfelt artistry rather than flashy technique. “Gare Du Nord” is a stately chamber quartet with Blatt (guitar), Sklar (violin and viola), Friesen (cello), and Sam Bevan on double bass - elegant but very warm and accessible. The gently blissful “Walking Among Tulips” features Blatt, Friesen, Haley, and Richard “Gus” Sebring (French horn) - again very classical. “Passing Up Bridges” reveals Blatt’s folk roots and features him playing guitar, bass, accordion, and mandolin. Sklar joins him on violin and the late Jim Rothermel played a joyful and buoyant penny whistle. This beautiful piece would be perfect behind photos or a film about America’s heartland. “The Place Where Monarchs Go” is another stellar duet with Bisharat. This time, Blatt’s baritone guitar has a grounding influence while Bisharat’s violin sends the music floating into the clouds - love it! “Poloyne” is my favorite track. A duet with Sklar (violin), it begins as a dark violin solo with a Middle Eastern flavor. Blatt’s expressive guitar is more rhythmic while tinged with mystery, and the piece is sometimes heartbreakingly mournful. The graceful and evocative “Where the Pines Once Stood” is a duet for guitar and French horn. “Illuminations” is a spare and dreamy guitar solo. “Green Corn” closes the set with an unusual trio - baritone guitar, violin (Bisharat), and French horn - again evoking peaceful images of wide open spaces and breezes gently blowing through fields - a sweetly upbeat close to an outstanding album.

 

Lawrence Blatt has created another masterpiece with Emergence! It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!!

 

Kathy Parsons

MainlyPiano.com

4/19/14

Celtic Radio Network

Emergence is now playing on Celtic Radio Network:

 

Visit Celtic Radio for the best in Celtic Music!

MWE3.com

Here is the Interview Posted by Musicologist Robert Silverstein on mwe3.com

Featuring studio production by famed producer / New Age music conceptualist Will Ackerman, the 2014 CD release of Emergence is the finest album yet from acoustic / finger-style guitarist Lawrence Blatt. The 12 track, all instrumental album should be right up the alley among fans of Ackermans’s world renowned Windham Hill Records. Recorded in Ackerman’s Vermont-based Imaginary Road studio, Emergence features Lawrence working with Ackerman’s “A-list” of solo instrumentalists including violinists Charlie Bisharat and Lila Sklar, Eugene Friesen (cello), Sam Bevan (double bass), Jill Haley (English horn), Richard “Gus” Sebring (French horn) and Jim Rothermel (penny whistle). Earlier album releases, including Fibonacci’s Dream and The Color Of Sunshine were both critically acclaimed, yet the release of Emergence brings Lawrence Blatt's guitar-centric brand of instrumental music to a whole higher level. The sound on Emergence is more 21st century guitar-based mood music than meditative acoustic instrumental, yet there’s elements of both that should have wide crossover appeal not just among contemporary art music aficionados but also among guitar fans looking for an eclectic acoustic instrumental music experience. For Emergence, Blatt states that his compositional style was influenced by a ‘world full of complex patterns and seemingly unexplainable order, from the beauty of an individual snowflake to the migration patterns of birds and butterflies.’ The unexplainable complexity of life and the miracle of sound is brought under the sonic microscope on Lawrence Blatt’s excellent Emergence CD. www.LawrenceBlatt.com


mwe3.com presents an interview with
LAWRENCE BLATT



mwe3
: Can you tell us where you’re from originally and where you live now and what you like best about it?

Lawrence Blatt: I have lived in many places and each location has had a unique and significant influence on my life and on my music. As a young child, I grew up in Southern California in the San Fernando Valley, which is adjacent to Los Angeles. From the age of seven, I had an intense longing to play the violin. I know that may sound strange for a seven year old growing up in the heart of rock and roll, however something inside me was begging to play the violin. After several months of pleading with my parents, they agreed to let me play and found a wonderful teacher, named Mr. Burt, Albert Burt to be exact. Mr. Burt was at least eighty years old, fairly disheveled, always traveled with both a violin and a viola, would come to our apartment for my weekly one hour lesson and would stay two to three hours or until my parents kicked him out. He would hand write all music from memory on staff paper and he built within me a strong sense of musical logic with his explanation of scales and chord theory. I did not know it at the time, but he was building the foundation of my musical landscape.

Later, when I was in the fifth grade, my family moved from California to Indianapolis, Indiana. In my new hometown, I cultivated a deep and intense interest for acoustic music and the guitar. As a teenager, I continued my love for classical music and played in the Indiana Youth Symphony. At the same time, I became involved in the Indiana singer/songwriter scene and was exposed to roots music played on porches and in small taverns. I attended Indiana University, Bloomington, took classes in the music department, was exposed to a vast number of musical styles and forms, and learned a significant amount of music theory. I also continued with singer/songwriter solo and ensemble performances in and around the Midwest and even ventured south to Nashville, Tennessee. Later, I moved to Boulder, Colorado to work in a biotechnology company, and it was in Colorado that I had a musical transformation. On a whim, I signed up for a master guitar seminar taught by renown finger-style guitarists Laurence Juber and Brian Gore. Working with Laurence and Brian completely transformed my approach to playing and I was introduced to open tunings and playing with the use of my bare fingertips. This approach now predominates my playing. A few years later, I moved to San Francisco and began an intense one-on-one study with Brian Gore.

The San Francisco Bay area is my home today and it is indeed a fertile crescent of creativity. There are many musicians living in the area and opportunities to collaborate are bountiful. To this end, I have worked in collaboration with artists like Jeff Oster, who is another Bay area resident and a close friend.

The Bay area is also a breathtakingly beautiful place and I find inspiration for my music in the many diverse micro climates and ecologies of the vast Northern Californian landscape. I have also, of recent, spent more time back in Indianapolis, where I am able to find both a deep grounding in my music and a peaceful clime of a slower-paced and simpler lifestyle.

mwe3: How did the newly released Emergence album take shape and how did you meet and then work with Windham Hill founder, Will Ackerman? What’s it like working with Will and in what ways did he help you shape the sound and vision, and reach the final release?

Lawrence Blatt: As you may know, I have a deep interest in science as well as music and two of my previous albums, Fibonacci’s Dream and The Color of Sunshine, have blended my passion for music and science. For my latest album entitled, Emergence, I wanted to see if I could use the scientific concept of emergence as a guidepost to create music. The concept of emergence has recently been utilized to explain how complex patterns can “emerge” from simple rules, both in nature as well as in sociological systems. It has been used to explain the inter workings of beehives, the migratory patterns of birds and butterflies, and the complex geometry of snowflakes, as well as many other highly ordered systems.

My concept for the album started about five years ago and given my love of stringed instruments, I wanted this album to include violins, violas and cellos. In some ways, the concept for the album was simple. I created initial guitar parts that served as the root for each piece. For the guitar parts, I utilized chord theory and musical rules of movement and progression. For each solo instrumentalist, I asked them to adhere to the chord structure within the bounds of predefined simple rules, and restricted movement to that being mandated by the guitar. No written music was supplied to any of the other musicians.

This is exactly how order emerges in complex systems in nature. I was initially a little nervous about this approach when I first started, but quickly realized how powerful it was. The complexity of each track is a function of simple rules that allow higher order richness and diversity to evolve unexpectedly from each solo instrumentalist. In some instances, the soloist could hear the parts played by others, however, on some tracks, the soloist did not hear corresponding parts, but rather only adhered to the simple rules given to them. This is the case with the Celtic inspired composition, “Passing Up Bridges,” where the violinist, Lila Sklar, and the penny whistle player, Jim Rothermel, did not hear each other during recording.

The album also has Will Ackerman’s signature style all over it. In many ways, Will’s contribution was also a function of Emergence, as he has his own well-described methods and approaches to recording music. I met Will several years ago by way of an introduction from mutual friends, and I can say that his influence on my music has been immense. Will pushes me to try to go further than I thought I could and his demanding, yet genteel style, helped to bring Emergence to a much higher level. I also consider Will to be a close friend and teacher, and I am forever grateful for this aspect of our collaboration.

mwe3: When was the music on Emergence written and is there a track that you’re releasing as a single for radio or video? Do you have a favorite track or tracks from the album?

Lawrence Blatt: The music for the album was written over several years in many locations throughout the world. For example, the classical music inspired "Gar Du Nord" was written in Paris, France when I was stranded in the North train station waiting to take the Chunnel to London. "Passing Up Bridges" was written on one of many trips to Will’s studio while driving in the emerald green countryside and traversing the many small towns with beautiful old bridges that cover the Vermont countryside. The song is about hope, but also longing to stop and learn about the many beautiful villages that I needed to “pass up” to reach my destination at the specified time.

Other compositions on the album are rerecordings of pieces I released on previous albums as solo guitar works, that for Emergence, are transformed into ensemble pieces. These works include the composition, “Say Hello Again,” which was transformed into a string ensemble for Emergence, as well as “Green Corn,” which features Charlie Bisharat on violin and Gus Sebring on French horn.

The album has been sent to radio stations, and given the diversity of the tracks, I am hopeful that several will be selected for airplay. I think that for people who would like a flavor of the album, they should start with the title track, “Emergence,” and then check out “Say Hello Again,” “Green Corn,” and “The Place Where The Pines Once Stood”.

mwe3: Can you tell us who else plays on the Emergence album with you and who else was key in the making of the album?

Lawrence Blatt: I am so pleased with the other musicians who played on the album, many of whom were hand selected by Will Ackerman. These musicians include solo instrumentalists, including Charlie Bisharat and Lila Sklar on violins, EugeneFriesen on cello, Sam Bevan on double bass, Jill Haley on English horn, Richard "Gus" Sebring on French horn and Jim Rothermel on penny whistle.

mwe3: How would you compare Emergence with your other CD releases and how do you feel your playing has changed or improved over the years? Do you practice every day and how does practicing guitar help you with your composing?

Lawrence Blatt: As one of my collaborators recently stated, “Emergence is the most consistent album you have released, from a stylistic perspective.” I think the album is much more grounded in classical music compared to my previous releases which spanned jazz to acoustic roots, and even World flavors. I also think that the album has a great progression of the program, with each composition leading to the next.

Please try to listen to the entire album at once to experience this aspect. In addition, I think this album is more mature than previous releases and the album is “about the music,” meaning, that it didn’t need to be only about my guitar. To this end, for several compositions I play an accompanying role, rather than lead role. One final note, the album contains no percussion instruments which is a big departure from many of the rhythmic composition on my previous albums, Out of the Woodwork, Fibonacci’s Dream and The Color of Sunshine.

mwe3: Can you tell us something about the guitars you are performing on the new album and what other guitars do you have in your collection that you use to record and perform with? How do you decide what strings you want to play on what guitars, and do you have any favorite amps, pickups and/or special effects when you record or play live?

Lawrence Blatt: I played several guitars on the album, including my Tacoma Thunder Chief Baritone guitar, tuned to AEADF#A for “A Promise in the Woods,” and AEADF#B on “The Place Where Monarchs Go,” and BEADF#B for the composition, “Green Corn”. For several other tracks, I played Will’s Froggy Bottom OM guitar, tuned to standard tuning for “Emergence,” “Illuminations,” “Where the Pines Once Stood,” “Entering the East Gate,” and “Say Hello Again,” and tuned down to DADGAD for “Passing Up Bridges.” I also played my custom Perlman Redwood Topped guitar tuned to DADGBD for “Walking Among Tulips” and to DADGBE for the Eastern European inspired composition, “Poloyne.” For “Gar Du Nord,” I played a European built Furch Stanford acoustic guitar tuned to standard tuning.

I have several other guitars in my collection, including several Gibson Montana acoustics as well as a custom EVD and Kathey Wingert Parlor guitar.

When I tune down, I like to use medium gauge strings and often use Marquis or D’Addario strings. In standard tuning, I like to use light gauge strings. I don’t use any modifications for my guitar sound and usually only mic the guitar without pickups for recording at Imaginary road studios. Since I play acoustic, for recording, I don’t use any amps or pedals. Live, I like to use just the house PA and sometimes plugin a pickup. LR Baggs acoustic pickups are my first choice to get a warm natural tone.

mwe3: What artists most influenced your guitar playing and compositional style and what music do you listen to when you relax or party? What are some of your favorite guitar albums and rock and pop albums?

Lawrence Blatt: In high school, I was influenced by singer/songwriters, such as Neil Young, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Jonathan Edwards, Cat Stevens, Carole King, Jesse Colin Young, Van Morrison, Dan Fogelberg, America, and Boz Scaggs. In college, my musical interests expanded to include artists such as John Lee Hooker, Al Jarreau, John Mellencamp, Joe Jackson, and Chicago. While living in California, I listened to a lot of folk music (Steve Earle, Steve Goodman, John Prine, Lyle Lovett) and jazz (Larry Carlton, Brandon Fields) and I also love R&B artists like Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire, as well as old school funk, and rap/hip-hop.

I am also deeply inspired by other finger-style guitarists including Will Ackerman (of course), Laurence Juber, Michael Hedges, Brian Gore, Dave Wilcox, Leo Kottke, Ottmar Liebert and The Netherlands’, Harry Sacksioni.

mwe3: What are the plans to help get the word out there about Emergence and what other ventures do you have planned for 2014 and into 2015?

Lawrence Blatt: To help get the word out, I am working with some great people, including Max Horowitz at Crossover Media who will make my CD available for radio shows, and I am also working with Doreen D’Agostino on press related matters. I am also, like any musician, working with my own social media sites so we can all help spread the word. In the end, I just want my music to be heard and I thank you, Robert, for the opportunity to be featured on mwe3.com.

Thanks to Lawrence Blatt @ www.LawrenceBlatt.com