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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
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Longitudes & Latitudes
By Lawrence Blatt
Label: LMB Music
Released 8/9/2016
Longitudes & Latitudes tracks
1. Two Shades of Sunshine (Makawao, Hawaii)
2. Longitudes and Latitudes
3. A Place in Your Heart (Florence, Italy)
4. Hyde Park Bench (London, England)
5. Open Fields and Running Water (Huangshan, China)
6. Two Steps Down the Line (San Francisco)
7. I.M.A. (Indianapolis, Indiana)
8. Morning in Beerse ( Beerse, Belgium)
9. Upon Griffy Lake (Griffy Lake Nature Preserve)
10. The Places Left Behind (Boulder, Colorado)
11. Park Lane (New Your, New York)
12. Noches de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)
13. Flying Over Elis Island (Elis Island, New York Bay)
14. Slow Walk Past the Bank (Paris, France)
15. Over the Rainbow (Lawrence, Kansas)
You can get there from here
"Let me turn this GPS thingy on. Okay, I got the signal. Wait, I lost it. No, wait, there he is. Wait, gone again. Okay, I know exactly where he is."

Lawrence Blatt's new album Longitudes & Latitudes has GPS coordinates on every track title, but the question really isn’t where, but why. Why are these reference point important? Because for contemporary guitarist Lawrence Blatt, every place is a memory. On Lawrence’s 15 track collection of masterful guitar music, every memory is an experience.

Take the first track, Two Shades of Sunshine. The coordinates designate a little town on the island of Maui called Makawao nestled on the slopes of a long sleeping volcano called Haleakala. It is the home of pineapples, paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys) and traditions that go back a hundred years. Lawrence's opening tune is nothing but sun and fun. The music invites you to climb the mountain and greet the sunrise.

The title tune Longitudes & Latitudes has no numbers, but it appeals to everyone everywhere. It beckons you to explore on your own and challenges you to go over the horizon, explore the next few miles, and go around that corner. Kelly Park's piano and Lawrence's guitar make good partners on this one.

I can only imagine that someone fell in love in Florence, Italy by the music in A Place in Your Heart. The throaty sound of the guitar, Sam Bevan's bass and the faraway sound of the horn suggests a time of musing, a look back at the sweetness of the moment.

Open Fields and Running Water pinpoints a place just southwest of Shanghai called Huangshan, the Yellow Mountain. Why the song has a Latin beat is yet to be discovered, but the music is celebratory. Flugelhorn master Jeff Oster accentuates the composition with his echoing horn and Jeff Hayes percussion offer a beat to follow. Say hello to the sea of clouds and goodnight to the sunset.

I take nothing away from Lawrence when I say that Premik Russell Tubbs embodies the spirit of the late Chuck Greenburg in the ditty I.M.A. The high energy of the lyricon soars with vitality in the tune, making it carefree and uplifting. The numbers point to Indianapolis, Indiana. This spritely tune certainly validates that it is a city of people that embrace the joys of life. It turned out to be my favorite on the album.

There is no doubt that you are somewhere in Spain when you hear the tune Noches de Barcelona. Layers of horn and sax, heart throbbing tempo, and silky guitar come together to accentuate every twinkling star in that Iberian sky. A little bit of animated piano by Kori Linae Carothers round out the tune nicely. Everybody has a good time on this song.

Flying Over Ellis Island starts out with a soft voice, a shy greeting, but then when everyone realizes what they have in common, the tune turns into a swing tune. You gotta love that. Reminds me of the one of the Penguin Café ventures, but oh what fun. My shoulders were actually shimmying when I listened to this. It is as if Lawrence took samples of the commonality of music from all over the world and brought it together for this one tune. Welcome to America!

There is usually something happy and playful about the ukulele, but when Lawrence uses it, the sound becomes soft, refined and longing. The tune Over the Rainbow is the closing track and it has a lonesome sense of yearning. We all have our rainbows or our dreams. We must never give them up. I equate Over the Rainbow with Hawaii. It will always be my "Oz" a place to which I long to return. For Lawrence it is ...wait for it, Lawrence, Kansas. The irony is neither lost, nor misplaced.

I invite you to join Lawrence Blatt, his intrepid guitar and the gang as they highlight places you always dreamed of, but never had the courage to venture to. He hits London, Paris, California and other places in the U.S. His music is onomatopoeiac, it sounds like where he is. With every deftly produced and emotionally rich song, it is where you will want to be as well.
Rating: Excellent   Excellent
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 1/27/2017
 
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