San Francisco's Lawrence Blatt delivers piercing, original compositions played on acoustic finger-style guitar. His unique sound stems in part from his fusion of classical and modern performance
techniques. Blatt shares a little about his mode of playing to create his distinctive sound. "As a solo instrumentalist, I have to let my guitar be my voice. I try to create moods and express feelings by using alternate tunings, by careful attention to musical dynamics and intonation and by layering percussive sounds behind the main voice of the guitar. Sometime playing a phase softer or louder can have a significant impact on what is communicated. In some cases, being a solo instrumentalist is difficult since I cannot use lyrics to directly express my thoughts and feelings. In another sense, this is highly cathartic as my music can communicate in any language and I can create new patterns of communication through sounds and rhythms."
Blatt performs in a variety of styles, "My music ranges from soft contemporary compositions to mysterious pieces that could be set in the 18th century." Blatt's music unfolds in a variety of genres, including folk, world, new age, adult contemporary, soundtrack flavors and occasionally fringes on alternative sounds. But ultimately, he just plays. When speaking about his latest release "Fibonacci's Dream" Blatt explains "I did not set out to make an album in any particular genre. My music creates a personal oasis and space of solitude in a busy life." Blatt's music has strong roots in classical theory, the product of an artist who spent years studying classical music as a violinist. He weaves in modern flavors and the tapestry that emerges is an intricate interaction of melody.
Any discussion of Blatt's music must include mention of his instruments. When recording, Blatt can be heard playing two “very special guitars.” One is a custom steel-string guitar crafted by Edward Dick. “This guitar has a spruce top and Indian rosewood back and sides. It's slightly bell-shaped body produces a warm deep sound. I waited almost eighteen months for this guitar to be completed and I worked very closely with Edward during the construction to build the guitar to my exact specifications.” The other guitar is a small-bodied 12-fret parlor guitar made by Kathy Wingert. It was built with a German spruce top and Brazilian rosewood back and sides. “This tiny guitar packs a powerful punch and was the inspiration for the title track for my first CD “Out of the Woodwork.”
This solo artist has been playing acoustic guitar for over 30 years. His music has been called heartwarming, soothing, and relaxing. His music consists of layers of guitar work decorated with luscious melodies and percussive moods. He often plays in open tunings with a single guitar used to create the rhythm, bass and lead melody all at once. His latest project "Fibonacci's Dream" is a compilation of thirteen original pieces and is available at CD Baby, Amazon.com, iTunes, Tradebit, Musicishere and other fine retailers.
See what others are saying about Blatt
"Lawrence Blatt is a fingerpicker much interested in the more progressive aspects of the instrument within a purely instrumental milieu. He possesses a polished style glowing with light and introspective intelligence but also casting defining shadows.." .. form Mark Tucker's review of "Out of the Woodwork" published in the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange.
The complete review can be found at :
"Lawrence Blatt’s "Out of the Woodwork" has been a real treat! Some of the thirteen original pieces are solo guitar and some are layered with electric bass and various percussion instruments, all played by Blatt. The meticulous liner notes give insight into the inspiration for the individual pieces, and also name the specific guitars being played and how they are tuned. The music indicates a variety of influences from folk to classical to jazz guitar, and most of the songs are relaxing yet upbeat and optimistic. Both traditional and highly innovative, this is a great album on several levels.".. from Kathy Parsons review of "Out of the Woodwork" published in Solo Piano Publications.
The complete review can be found at:
Lawrence Blatt: Solo Artist
Out of the Woodwork: Released 2007
Fibonacci's Dream: Released 2008
The Color of Sunshine
Infrared: The Abyss
Orange Blossom Honey
Green Corn and Spring
Black Rock Beach
Look to the Son
Infrared:The Abyss (TCS)
Mar Azul (TCS)
Infrared:The Abyss (TCS)
Violet Blue (TCS)
Black Rock Beach (TCS)
Lawrence Blatt's interview by "Junior's Cave"
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Isaac-Joseph: Thank you for doing an online interview with the magazine. Give a little background ab...Isaac-Joseph: Thank you for doing an online interview with the magazine. Give a little background about who you are?
Lawrence Blatt: I am an independent musician, composer and recording artist. My current musical interests include composing and performing solo instrumental works for the acoustic guitar and other stringed instruments. I have released two solo instrumental albums. The first was entitled "Out of the Woodwork" and was released in December 2006. "Out of the Woodwork" was selected as a finalist for the best album in the "New Age" category for the Independent Music Awards for 2007. My latest release is called "Fibonacci's Dream". Fibonacci's Dream takes you on a journey of music and math and contains 13 original compositions that span from solo acoustic guitar works to richly layered multi-track instrumentals. In addition to guitar, bass and percussion instruments, I used some unusual stringed-instruments on this album including a charango, ronroco and a 100-year-old Ditson mandolin.
Isaac-Joseph: Although your style is acoustical, you introduce other elements into your music such as classical. Describe a little about your training in classical and other genres. How did your training helped you to come out as a solo instrumentalist?
Lawrence Blatt: I have been playing guitar for over 30 years and I started my musical training at a very young age playing classical violin. To really understand my musical compositions I guess I have to start at the real beginning, that is, the beginning of my interest in music. As a child, I was living in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California. Like all kids at that time, I played baseball, morning, noon and night. But there was something else brewing inside me and by the age of eight, I had an intense yearning to play the violin. I know that sounds weird however something inside me was begging to play. After several months of pleading with my parents, they agreed to let me play and found a wonderful teacher. My teacher was at least eighty years old, fairly disheveled, always traveled with a violin and a viola and would come to our apartment for my weekly one hour lessons 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.
As I grew older, I continued my interest in the violin and I found myself playing in the Indianapolis Youth Symphony. Playing in the symphony exposed me to the great composers such as Mozart, Bach, Mendelssohn and my favorite, Bernhard Heiden. Playing classical music reinforced the foundation that I learned as a child. Much of classical music is based on the concept of theme and variation where an initial musical passage is replayed by various instruments sometimes in slightly different patterns or in a different key. If you listen to my compositions, you will hear theme and variation throughout including the use of Passacaglia where a repeating baseline is used for the entire piece.
Isaac-Joseph: Since you are a solo instrumentalist, to convey your emotions and feelings you use other methods. Describe these methods and how effective you feel that you get your feeling across in your music:
Lawrence Blatt: As a solo instrumentalist, I have to let my guitar be my voice. I try to create moods and express feelings by using alternate tunings, by careful attention to musical dynamics and intonation and by layering percussive sounds behind the main voice of the guitar. Sometime playing a phase softer or louder can have a significant impact on what is communicated. In some cases, being a solo instrumentalist is difficult since I cannot use lyrics to directly express my thoughts and feelings. In another sense, this is highly cathartic as my music can communicate in any language and I can create new patterns of communication through sounds and rhythms
My music ranges from soft contemporary compositions to mysterious pieces that could be set in the 18th century. When composing for my solo albums "Out of the Woodwork" and "Fibonacci's Dream", I did not set out to make an album in any particular genre but rather I composed music that conveyed my feelings and emotions. Some of these pieces manifest themselves in folk others in the world music genres. Personally, I don't really understand the need to bracket music into any particular genre and I don't pay any attention to genres as I write my music. For me, my music creates a personal oasis and space of solitude in a busy life with each piece serving as a mnemonic marker of life events, places I have been and people that I have known.
Isaac-Joseph: Let's focus in on your latest release entitled "Fibonacci's Dream". Describe the creative process in making this album and what can we expect from this release:
Lawrence Blatt: The compositions on "Fibonacci's Dream" were written utilizing the mathematical theories espoused by Leonardo Fibonacci, the extraordinary 13th Century Italian mathematician. During his life, Fibonacci traveled throughout the Mediterranean region and studied mathematics with several Arab scholars. By the age of 32, he published a book called "Liber Abaci" (Book of Calculation), and introduced Europeans to the use of Arabic numerals (the system we use today). In his book, Fibonacci explained the solution to the question of how fast a hypothetical population of rabbits could breed. The solution encompassed a derivation of a series of numbers that have far reaching implications to explain physical realities found throughout the universe. Assuming that there was one mating pair to start, Fibonacci calculated that each generation of rabbits would increase by the sum of the two preceding numbers of rabbits. Fibonacci derived a series of numbers using this formula.
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89,……………….
Fibonacci further realized that these numbers could be expressed as a ratio, and he derived the calculation of Phi, "The Golden Ratio". Expressed mathematically as:
The "Golden Ratio" is approximately equal to the number 1.618.
OK, I know what you are saying?what does all this have to do with art and music? The answer is: EVERYTHING!!!
Fibonacci ratios and numbers are found all over the natural world and in our every day lives. The petals of a Sunflower and the arrangement of seeds in a pinecone both contain Fibonacci numbers. The Golden Ratio is seen in the turns of a nautilus shell and the shape of cochlea inside our ears that both increase in size by a factor of 1.618 with every turn. The proportions of the human body are based on Phi and the Fibonacci number 5 and artists from Di Vinci to Seurat and Mondrian have utilized Fibonacci mathematics to improve the aesthetics of their artwork and designs.
Much of musical theory follows Fibonacci mathematics. Musical scales are based on 8 notes and an Octave is separated by 12+ 1 tones (8 and 13 are Fibonacci numbers). The basic structure of a chord uses the Fibonacci sequence 1, 3 and 5. Many great composers from Mozart to Beethoven to Bob Dillon have either consciously or subconsciously applied Fibonacci mathematics to their music.
With Fibonacci math in hand, I set out to compose the pieces for my album "Fibonacci's Dream". I tried to lace Fibonacci numbers and ratios in each composition. To hear the Fibonacci influence, look for phrases that are repeated in a Fibonacci sequence of numbers, melodies that follow tonal intervals separated by Fibonacci numbers and verses increasing in length by the Golden Ratio.
Isaac-Joseph: One of the interesting facts that I learned from your bio is that when recording you can be heard playing two "very special guitars." Can you elaborate on these two special guitars and how do they add to the overall quality of your music?
Lawrence Blatt: I believe that every guitar has its own unique voice as each piece of wood is different and any small fluctuations in the carving can have a large impact on the final resultant sound. The steel-string-guitar is basically a modern instrument and we are now living in the "Golden-Age" of guitar making. Put more simply, guitars made today are the best guitars ever made. Leading this revolution in guitar making is a number of small independent luthiers (literally "the makers of lutes") that produce between ten and twenty guitars per year. I am fortunate to own guitars made by independent luthiers and I used two very special guitars when recording. The first is a custom steel-string guitar made by Edward Dick ( http://www.evd303.com/guitars.html). This guitar has a spruce top and Indian rosewood back and sides. It's slightly bell-shaped body produces a warm deep sound. I waited almost eighteen months for this guitar to be completed and I worked very closely with Edward during the construction to build the guitar to my exact specifications. The second guitar I used was a small bodied-12-fret parlor guitar made by Kathy Wingert ( http://www.wingertguitars.com/guitar03.shtml) with a German spruce top and Brazilian rosewood back and sides. For "Fibonacci's Dream" I also experimented with some unusual stringed-instruments. If you listen to "Una Vida" and "Song For Chava" tracks 2 and 11 on the album, you can hear me playing a charango and a ronroco. Both of these instruments are indigenous to South America and both are derived from the lute brought to the region by the Conquistadors. Each is stung with 10 strings paired in 5 courses. This setup allows for "BIG" chords to be played from a tiny instrument. The solo at the end of "Una Vida" is a single charango.
Isaac-Joseph: If you have an opportunity to collaborate with someone, who would it be and why?
Lawrence Blatt: I would love to play with some great singers. By that, I do not necessarily mean someone with a purely technically great voice but rather someone who can really feel the music. People that come to mind are Stevie Nicks, Ray Charles, BB King, Eddie Vedder (original lead singer for Pearl Jam), Brad Roberts (lead singer for Crash Test Dummies) and Macy Gray. I have several singer-song writer tunes that I have written that I would like to release at some point and I would love to find just the right singer to do the songs justice.
Isaac-Joseph: As far as your influences, who made the biggest impact of you as a musician and what lessons did you learned from them that you have incorporated in your own music?
Lawrence Blatt: This is a difficult question as I have had many great influences in my life. In general, I am inspired by creative people who can make something from nothing. This includes: scientists, artists, musicians, writers, designers, architects and engineers. I love people who make a difference in the world and those that are devoted to leaving the places they visit a little better then when they arrived.
As for music, my tastes are wide and varied. Like most kids growing up in the 70's, I was attracted to the sound of Neil Young on his breakthrough acoustic album "Harvest" and I learned every guitar part by painstakingly replaying each track on my turntable. I also loved the sound of Earth Wind and Fire and the early Commodore albums. I learned to play James Taylor, Cat Stevens and of course all of the Led Zeppelin acoustic licks. Living in Indiana, I was exposed to Bluegrass and Country Music and I still remember pickin-and-grinning with the boys at parties and on the porch in Carmel, Indiana. I was also exposed to music which has a unique feature of moving from major to minor chords in a single passage. Recently, I have been most inspired by Laurence Juber and Pierre Bensusan who are acoustic finger-style-guitar masters. They play with only their hands with no picks or electronic effects. This results in a pure acoustic guitar sound that cannot be duplicated in any other way.
Isaac-Joseph: What has been your biggest accomplishment in 2007 in your opinion?
Lawrence Blatt: 2007 marked the launch of my solo instrumentalist career. I was able to launch "Out of the Woodwork" and I receive exposure on hundreds of radio stations world-wide and the album tracked well on several radio tracking polls. As I mentioned, the album was also selected as a finalist for the best album in the "New Age" category for the Independent Music Awards for 2007. In addition, one of the tracks on the album, "Here We Go' has been licensed to appear in an upcoming feature film staring Tom Green. I also wrote recoded and produced my second album "Fibonacci's Dream" in 2007. This is the album that I just released. I was also involved in a great project where I participated in a compilation CD that was distributed to our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of a holiday gift package.
By far my biggest accomplishment was just the realization of the fact that if you dream it, you can make it happen. As an independent artist, I am the writer, performer and producer of all my work. This can be overwhelming at times but can also be very gratifying when the work is complete.
Isaac-Joseph: What can your fans look forward too in 2008? Please elaborate on any new releases, tour dates, or anything else that you will we need to know?
Lawrence Blatt: I am just now in the midst of planning my 2208 activities. "Fibonacci's Dream" is being sent to radio stations world-wide and I am beginning to write and record material for my next album. I am planning to get more involved in writing music for soundtracks so you may here me in the background of a TV show or a feature film. I plan on continuing my use of exotic stringed-instruments and will use a 12-stringed mandolin and a baritone ukulele and some of the compositions on my next album. I also plan to start to do live performances in more intimate settings so look for me in coffee houses or small venues in your local area.
Isaac-Joseph: If you had an opportunity to take someone under your wings to teach him or your learned lessons, what advice would you give him or her as far as not being afraid to make the music that he or she wants to make?
Lawrence Blatt: I guess the best advice I can give is to follow your heart and your dreams. Do not let anyone tell you the type of music to make or set a style for your performance. I think people recognize quality whenever or wherever it emerges. Don't try to follow the latest trend but make the best music you know how to make. We are lucky to be living in a time where the internet has broken down traditional barriers that were put into place by the large record companies. There are many opportunities to be heard and you can amass a fan based of people who like your style of music whatever that may be. Work hard, live strong and above all, be yourself. That's about all I can say.
Isaac-Joseph: Final thoughts from Lawrence Blatt:
Lawrence Blatt: I just want to thank you for the opportunity to be heard and to thank your readers for making it to the end of my verbose answers to your questions. Hope you enjoy my music!!
LAWRENCE BLATT HAS BEEN NAMED AS A FINALISTS OF THE 7TH ANNUAL INDEPENDENT MUSIC AWARDS FOR ALBUM OF THE YEAR -NEW AGE - November 1, 2007
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San Francisco, California based solo instrumentalist, Lawrence Blatt is among a diverse group of ind...San Francisco, California based solo instrumentalist, Lawrence Blatt is among a diverse group of independent musicians named as winners of the 7th Annual Independent Music Awards. Guitarist and Composer Lawrence Blatt has been performing his finger-style-guitar compositions for over 30 years. His release: Out Of the Woodwork is the culmination of that history in layers and organic part writing. With thirteen soothing guitar melodies, many of which are played in open tunings, the collection can be called 'acoustic solitude. After spending years studying classical music as a violinist, Blatt's melodic yet intricate interaction of moods that lay beneath his alternate tunings are balanced by careful dynamics and intonation. Out Of the Woodwork was named as one of five finalists for IMA album of the year in the New Age category.
IMA Finalists will now advance to the final round of judging by a distinguished group of influential artists and industry insiders. The Judges who will determine this year’s IMA Winners include Suzanne Vega; Snoop Dogg, Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers; Les Claypool of Primus; Ray Davies of The Kinks; Susan Tedeschi, Frank Iero of My Chemical Romance; blues legend Charlie Musselwhite; Judy Collins; Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis, MTV Music Supervisor, Carrie Hughes, Kevin Lyman of Vans Warped Tour and many others.
IMA Winners and Finalists winners will appear in the 10th Anniversary edition of
The Musician’s Atlas 2008, on sale December 18, 2007. Regarded as the industry’s most comprehensive contact directory, The Atlas is used by independent musicians and entrepreneurs to market and sell music more successfully.
Developed and coordinated by Music Resource Group, publisher of The Musician’s Atlas, the Independent Music Award program delivers a variety of premiums to Winners including:
Year-long marketing campaigns, partnerships and distribution alliances, that will place the Winners in front of millions of music fans and industry decision makers around the world.
The IMA Winners CD compilation will be distributed to 10,000 music fans and industry at events such as SXSW, Ozzfest, The Warped Tour throughout the year and promoted to more 650 US & Canadian college & public radio stations.
eMusic will promote IMA Winners to millions of their subscribers throughout 2008.
Borders Books & Music will promote IMA Winners more than 11 Million of their customers.
Exposure to nearly 10 million viewers of ManiaTV.com and Havoc TV.
Music fans will be casting their votes for their favorite IMA Finalists at www.IndependentMusicAwards.com at the IMA Vox Populi Jukebox.
For more information on the Musician’s Atlas and the Independent Music Awards contact Joelle Caputa (email@example.com) at 973-509-9898.
Both Sides Now Review by RJ Lannon and Bill Binkleman
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I found the guitar style of Lawrence Blatt very light. I mean light as in delicate, feathery and nim...I found the guitar style of Lawrence Blatt very light. I mean light as in delicate, feathery and nimble. Then the mood changed and I found the music energizing and edgy. The sound of his latest offering Out of the Woodwork is way past contemporary and more reserved than neoclassical.
The tone of Blatt's copious liners notes made me think of him as a "long hair", but you would have to be a child of the sixties to get that. That is a person really wrapped up in classical styles and methods. His approach is to utilize his classical experience and blend it harmoniously with contemporary scoring. His CD jacket, with so much on it that it was printed microscopically, will tell you all there is to know about his approach and thinking. I for one just enjoyed his music.
The first track is sort of a tune up. Called It's Not Baroque, it is a sweet introduction with a Spanish tone and perky harmonics, but it only lasts 55 seconds. First impressions are so important, don’t you think? Then comes Jason's Party. Apparently a good time was had by all as this lively tune celebrates the camaraderie that is to be had when ever friends get together. Blatt's rendition comes across perfectly just as if he were a friend you asked to play at the party.
A couple of tracks have a unique sound. For instance, the style in Where Have You Gone? put me immediately in mind of folk rock legend guitarist Steven Stills. There is power and poignancy in this song of angst that declares that life stinks and fairness is out the door. The punchy guitar licks reappear in the title tune Out of the Woodwork. What I liked about all of Lawrence's songs is that they have the feel or distinctive kind of sound of honest first takes. These songs are not remastered over and over again which could have made them lose their earthy feel. Out of the Woodwork is by far one of the best tracks on the recording. It is a song about discovery or perhaps that story of big things out of small packages applies. (Got to read them liner notes!)
Here We Go was a favorite on the first listen. The tune is a bit elaborate with quirky percussion, but the lead is jaunty and has a lot of motion. This is traveling music no doubt and about the changes and travails we run into when we move around in life. Z-Squared is a song for the children. Lawrence’s two children Zoe and Zack are the inspiration for this animated tune that tried to corral the energies of two youngsters that are like night and day.
Finally, Keiki's Lullaby played on a ukulele is a sweet reminder that the world’s children need tucking in and a kiss on the forehead no matter where they are. This album is highly recommended.
Lawrence Blatt’' acoustic guitar recording, Out of the Woodwork is a multi-hued collection of pieces that vary not just in mood and tempo but also in regards to accompanying instrumentation (some cuts are solo guitar while others feature assorted percussion, electric bass, synthesizer, and even a ukulele makes an appearance on the last song). Regardless of the rhythm, evocation or musical motifs on any individual track, the quality of the music and the care which Blatt exhibits in not just his playing but also the production is always apparent (as is Gary Mankin's excellent mixing and mastering). While the CD may lack the cohesion that some new age music fans seek (i.e. establishing and maintaining a single mood), this variety is what I found refreshing. Also, there is a unified "feel" to Blatt's playing no matter whether he is toning it down to a whisper or whipping through it with a frenzy of passion.
After a short prelude piece (It’s Not Baroque), Jason's Party kicks things off with a light-hearted midtempo tune which juxtaposes the happy melody and bouncy rhythm with a surprisingly subdued overall sound (a unique and enjoyable twist). Say Hello to Yesterday slows things down to a more "traditional" new age acoustic guitar sound, as Blatt (playing only guitar) patiently unwinds the gentle refrain and bridge. It's a (dare I say it?) pretty song. Contrast that with Where Have You Gone which begins in a dark almost foreboding mood. When electric bass and dramatic percussion enter the picture, the setting gets even darker. The title track is another "atypical" slice of music that carefully balances delicate fingerwork against a pervasive mood of mystery eventually folding in pounding drum kit rhythms to elevate the drama even more. Synth chorals at the track’s close fit in perfectly. Standing in the Rain feels surprisingly (given its title) upbeat (I was expecting a somber reflective number). The Road to Poipu has Blatt plying his craft with some Hawaiian slack key guitar as well as an added touch of some fine percussion work. A lilting lively track, the song builds from a soft beginning to become an energetic tune. Blatt closes the CD with another Hawaiian-influenced piece, the ukulele number Keiki Lullaby which despite its jaunty pace still reflects a softer musical aspect of the artist’s personality.
With thirteen instrumentals on Out of the Woodwork, you get more than your money's worth if you love a varied approach to acoustic guitar recordings. Blatt deserves credit for not just his talent and skill on his instrument (which are considerable) but also how he managed to record an album as diverse as this one while infusing it with a single "voice" uniquely his. One of the more interesting guitar releases I've heard in the last year or so, the album gets "thumbs up" from me for both its originality and its overall artistry.
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
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Always cautious regarding dread New Age Brainfever, a stupor that not only goopily stunts the growth...Always cautious regarding dread New Age Brainfever, a stupor that not only goopily stunts the growth of musicians pooting out such drek—a vitiation not even Wonder Bread could assuage —but likewise saps the vitality of unwary ears ambushed by it, I'm extraordinarily careful when eyeing solo guitar discs of mellifluous fare; hence, I circled carefully around the back of this one, just in case.
I needn't have bothered. Lawrence Blatt is a fingerpicker much interested in the more progressive aspects of the instrument within a purely instrumental milieu. He possesses a polished style glowing with light and introspective intelligence but also casting defining shadows, placing it well outside New Age puffery. The intro cut, unfortunately barely a minute long, sees him rattling off speedy riffs before settling into the mostly metered remainder of the CD. In each song, he explores a meld of Spanish, folk, light jazz, and classical modes blent with discerning attention to a homogenous result that sparkles in its composition, restrained but well-considered and adventurousness.
The recording is a shade bright in various places, the usual shortcoming of home recordings, but there's more than enough in materiality to make up for that. Cuts like Where Have you Gone multi-track him as wistfully nomadic, layers of landscape creating lonely vistas of forlorn empty meadows, abandoned byways, grey clouds in moody skies. "Out of the Woodwork" recalls Blatt's trip to Israel and similarly summons pensive estates of broad twilights and hidden energies. Walking Alone continues the reverie, though with a quicker step and a slightly livelier set of harmonics, percussives, and chord progressions. Much of the set is quite reflective, arising from remoter sectors of the interior artistic eye, but there are fairly lively tunes as well, such as Step Down Then Up Again, about the guitarist's children learning to walk, and Under the Sun, with its zippy main sections.
Blatt crosses the mid-ground of Alex DeGrassi and the more involved Fahey while picking up, as many unknowingly have, the sort of post-folk intelligence shown by the procession of Al Stewart's accompanists (Peter Wood et. al.) and by Stewart himself. Then like Carl Weingarten, one of the nearly-unknown masters in modern guitar work, he challenges himself even further, producing a couple of slack-key songs. In the main, however, Blatt keeps to a DAGDAD tuning with EVD Custom Acoustic and Wingert Parlor Acoustic guitars, bass and percussives bringing up the background, and an occasional very light synth coloring the corners. Some songs are solo workouts, others layered, but all show a cohesive effort to bolster the ability of the guitar to speak persuasively outside genre norms.
Review by Kathy Parsons
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It’s not too often that I receive acoustic guitar CDs to review, but Lawrence Blatt’s “Out of the Wo...It’s not too often that I receive acoustic guitar CDs to review, but Lawrence Blatt’s “Out of the Woodwork” has been a real treat! Some of the thirteen original pieces are solo guitar and some are layered with electric bass and various percussion instruments, all played by Blatt. The meticulous liner notes give insight into the inspiration for the individual pieces, and also name the specific guitars being played and how they are tuned. The music indicates a variety of influences from folk to classical to jazz guitar, and most of the songs are relaxing yet upbeat and optimistic. Both traditional and highly innovative, this is a great album on several levels.
The opening track, “It’s Not Baroque,” is a short prelude that employs scales not often found in contemporary music. It’s a slightly dark and mysterious welcome. “Jason’s Party” evolved from an improvisation played at a celebration for a young boy. Innocent and playful, its infectious rhythm captures the joyful nature of the occasion. “Where Have You Gone?” is one of the few somber pieces on the album. Reflecting on the deaths of loved ones, the music is passionate, conveying the powerful range of emotions that one experiences during this time. It’s an amazing piece. “Step Down Then Up Again” is a gentle, loving portrayal of Blatt’s two young children learning to walk - charming! I love the title track. Inspired while walking toward the old city in Jerusalem, Blatt very effectively layers percussion and voices with the guitar, creating a gentle but catchy rhythm and a feeling of movement. “Standing In the Rain” is a guitar solo that is a bit melancholy, but depicts the cleansing and mentally refreshing quality of a walk in the rain. “The Road To Poipu” is in the Hawaiian “slack key” tuning and style with percussion in the background that makes it move in a spirited and carefree way. “Keiki Lullaby” closes the CD on concert Island ukulele with no embellishments to the simple, sweet piece that Blatt feels was waiting to be born in the instrument when he bought it.
“Out of the Woodwork” is excellent from start to finish and has some of the most interesting liner notes I’ve seen in a long time. The music provides a wonderful backdrop for dinner or reading, but is substantial enough for repeated concentrated listenings. It is available from www.lawrenceblatt.com, cdbaby.com, amazon.com, and iTunes. Recommended!
Gerald Van Waes's review of "Out of the Woodwork"
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Lawrence Blatt plays the guitar like someone else would use his voice to sing and arrange songs, to ...Lawrence Blatt plays the guitar like someone else would use his voice to sing and arrange songs, to pick out words and enbed them in melodies and flavours. He also shows himself as a gifted arranger, with very nice harmonizing arrangements with different guitars and subtle percussion. Some of the core melodies recall Harry Sacksioni a bit (another still too neglected Dutch guitarist, who was very active in the seventies). Within comparable recognisable melodies this is brilliant stuff.
From the liner notes I learn how Lawrence learned from classical music (two tracks are rooted in 18th century classical sensibilities, even when they sound more modern, and perhaps also, like song). Other influences mentioned were Neil Young, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Led Zeppelin, bluegrass and country, some Jewish music and lately open tunings, which he used here more often. He also taught himself to play single guitar with lead accompaniment together with subtle percussive qualities (like “slapping harmonics” and soundboard tapping”). Gifted.
A review of "Out of the Woodwork" from "Zeitgeist"
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Lawrence Blatt is a Californian acoustic guitarist who has released a CD chock full of relaxing and ...Lawrence Blatt is a Californian acoustic guitarist who has released a CD chock full of relaxing and soothing acoustic finger-style guitar. However, some time spent growing up in Indiana exposed him to country and bluegrass, and it's that as much as anything that helps what threatened to be a dull musical experience with some life and vigour.
The musos amongst you will be delighted to know that Lawrence provides a track by track dissection of the tunes, so you too can now discover that 'It's Not Baroque' has "harmonic overtones of the minor-6th chords". Right. Sounds really nice, though. The album is subtitled "Eclectic Modern Compositions for the Electric Guitar" and has been carefully constructed for listening to in sequence. Which is a very thoughtful way of doing things.
He used to do the whole singer / songwriter thing which also lifts the compositions out of the 'see how clever I am' trap many solo guitarists fall into. There are some really delightful pieces here, with my favourites being the melancholy 'Where Have You Gone?' and the weary 'Here We Go'. It may not be an album I'll put on daily rotation but I know, that when I need it. it'll provide some salve.
A review of "Out of the Woodwork" written by Javier Bedoya
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La primera impresión que uno tiene inmediatamente al escuchar este disco es que bien podría tratarse...La primera impresión que uno tiene inmediatamente al escuchar este disco es que bien podría tratarse de un nuevo trabajo de Willam Ackerman. Sí, ya sé que las comparaciones suelen ser odiosas, pero una vez más nos sirven de referencia para situar un estilo musical; cuando no has escuchado algo, los seres humanos necesitamos revolver en nuestros recuerdos para encontrar algo que se asemeje y entonces poder decir: "suena como".
A los ocho años Lawrence Blatt quiso sobre todas las cosas aprender a tocar el violín. Así que sus inicios estuvieron marcados por los grandes clásicos. Y eso ha trascendido hasta la fecha: sus composiciones de guitarra tienen influencias de aquellos estilos del siglo XVIII.
A mediados de los '70, Lawrence descubrió la guitarra y el bajo. Aprendió a tocar a James Taylor, Cat Stevens y Led Zeppelin. Y como vivía en Indiana, las influecias del bluegrass y la música country fueron inevitables.
Después se mudaría a Boulder, Colorado, y empezaría a variar su estilo: comenzaría a digitar las cuerdas y a ampliar el espectro sonoro que le brinda la guitarra.
Lawrence Blatt nos presenta en este su segundo disco grabado de manera independiente (el primero fue 'Dreaming of the Past', 2000) un puñado de "modernas composiciones eclécticas para guitarra acústica" que inevitablemente nos vuelven a recordar al fundador de Windham Hill (ahora BMG).
Cada tema está cuidadosamente comentado para que podamos apreciar el estilo y lo que Lawrence pretende comunicar con su música.
Es un recorrido breve (poco más de media hora) que se disfruta más si predisponemos el entorno: atenuamos las luces, nos servimos una copa de vino y nos recostamos en nuestro sillón favorito mientras entrecerramos los ojos, dejándonos llevar.
Jim Brenholts review of "Out of the Woodwork"
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It can be extremely difficult to like a CD of mostly acoustic guitars — especially when one is firml...It can be extremely difficult to like a CD of mostly acoustic guitars — especially when one is firmly rooted in the electronic arena of ambient music. (Hey, readers — does that apply to me? My fondness for Lisa Lynne and her music notwithstanding, it does!) However, Out of the Woodwork, by Lawrence Blatt, is not a typical acoustic guitar CD.
Yes, it has plenty of sappy melodies and self-indulgent wails. For some reason Larry makes it work and the melodies and wails come across as real with integrity. There is no garbage, only sincere music from a talented multi-instrumentalist.
There are also some very cool experimental sounds that spring — seemingly — from nowhere. “Here We Go” (track eight) has some delicious atmospheres that have to come from Larry’s technique as he used no electronics. Some manipulation of the bass or guitar strings creates this exotic “boing” sound.
The alternate realities on “Z-Squared” (track ten) are downright wicked. Larry rocks and lolls (no typo). This piece, about his children, Zach and Zoe, is very cool.
As Larry states in his liner notes, this is a journey through his musical world. He invites listeners to share the ride. It is a cool one.
Lawrence Blatt's "Out of the Woodwork" has been selected for inclusion in the Reflections Management "Care Packages for Our Troops" Compilation CD
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Lawrence Blatt's "Out of the Woodwork" has been selected for inclusion in the Reflections Management...Lawrence Blatt's "Out of the Woodwork" has been selected for inclusion in the Reflections Management "Care Packages for Our Troops" compilation CD. This cd we be distributed along with other items to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The composition "Out of the Woodwork" was selected from several submissions and will be featured as part of the first volume of this project
It's Not Baroque
Where Have you Gone
Step Down The Up Again
Out of the Woodwork
Here We Go
Standing in the Rain
Under The Sun
The Road to Poipu