The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lawson Rollins and Crozes Hermitage Les Jalet

Just returned from a grueling European business trip—Amsterdam, Paris, Groningen, and Leiden all in seven days. Didn’t sleep much, but had some great science discussions, met with old friends, and drank some nice wines. I had today’s guitarist in the que for posting, but thought I’d move it up since Duane Pemberton (Facebook Friend) posted one of Lawson’s amazing videos.

When I first heard Lawson Rollins some years ago, I was blown away, not just by his technical proficiency, but his passionate interpretations of free-flowing Latin jazz, easy listening bossa nova, melodic classical pieces, and fiery flamenco, were an astounding combination of guitar styles. He has received critical acclaim through numerous collaborations, radio airplay, and the admiration of his guitarist peers. Guitar Player Magazine wrote, "Rollins seduces in so many ways that it's almost unfair. His classical tone is gorgeous, his technique is impeccable, his subtle genre blending is compelling."

Lawson developed a love for the Spanish guitar in his mid-teens through the recordings of classical guitar maestro, Andres Segovia. Through private study with several guitar teachers and master class workshops, Lawson developed his own expressive voice on the guitar and honed what, in my opinion, is an uncommonly dexterous classical fingerstyle technique. 

By his early twenties, Lawson's sense of rhythm, compositional ability, and love of improvisation led him in the direction of the improvisational freedom of Latin jazz and rhythmically enticing Spanish folk guitar styles. After graduating with an English major from Duke University and a graduate degree from the London School of Economics, Lawson moved to Washington, D.C. and in 1998 partnered with guitarist Daniel Young to form the genre-busting Latin guitar fusion group Young & Rollins. In 2007 after years of successful partnerships, Lawson moved to San Francisco to pursue his ambitions as a soloist. His style combines salsa, Latin jazz, blues, samba, bossa nova, flamenco, and classical music, all based on around a solid foundation of sparkling technical ability. I hope you enjoy him.

Since I spent some time in France last week, I’m going to pair  Lawson with a 2008 Crozes Hermitage Les Jalet  from  Paul Jaboulet-Aîné that I enjoyed there. Crozes-Hermitage is an appellation for wines from an area on the eastern bank of the Rhone River, to the north and south of Tain L'Hermitage town. Its name, “jalets,” comes from the the Old French word for the pebbles left by alpine glaciers, as can be found at Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Crozes-Hermitage wines are made almost exclusively from Syrah.

Like any good Syrah, its color is dark ruby and displays fragrant red and dark berry fruit scents. Its supple dark cherry and raspberry flavors are accompanied by some peppery spice and friendly tannins. The finish is silky with a bit of lingering sweetness. It went well with my steak tartare, just as it goes well with the music of Lawson Rollins. Enjoy!


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