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The Color of Sunshine

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Album Review

Most albums do not list the names and accomplishments of their producers on their front covers, as does The Color of Sunshine by Lawrence Blatt. "Produced by Will Ackerman," it says, just under the artist name and album title, "Grammy winner and founder of Windham Hill Records." The not-so-subtle message is that anyone who loves the music of Ackerman, something of a gold standard in New Age guitarists dating back to the '70s, will also love Blatt's efforts, since they have been given Ackerman's imprimatur by his participation on the album. And there is some validity to that claim. Blatt, an accomplished fingerpicking guitarist, displays Ackerman's influence particularly on such tracks as "UV Radiations" and "White Light." The song titles are evidence of the organizing principle behind the album. Blatt, who has a Ph.D. in science, likes to bring his knowledge in other disciplines to bear in inspiring his music. His last album, Fibonacci's Dream, drew on mathematics, while this one relates the color spectrum to music, at least metaphorically. Of course, as with nearly all program music, the listener isn't likely to recognize the ideas the composer had in mind merely by hearing the results. No matter. When Blatt isn't calling the music of his producer to mind, he can take a livelier, almost rock-like turn, as he does on "Infrared: The Abyss" and especially "Black Rock Beach," the latter boasting slide guitar playing by rock veteran T-Bone Wolk. Also forceful, if more in a jazz vein, are "Jaune (Yellow)" and "Mar Azul," both of which find violinist Steve Schuch joisting with the guitarist in a manner that recalls the interplay of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli. Blatt also likes to play the ten-string South American instrument the charango, as he does on "Violet Blue," when it sounds a bit like a mandolin. All of this and more (including the use of a ukulele and some interesting tunings) make for lots of musical colors and moods in a consistently interesting set of instrumental acoustic music.

Customer Reviews

From MainlyPiano

“The Color of Sunshine” is guitar wizard Lawrence Blatt’s third acoustic guitar album. “Out of the Woodwork” (2006) and “Fibonacci’s Dream” (2008) were extremely impressive self-produced solo guitar efforts, but this time Blatt traveled to Will Ackerman’s studio in Vermont to record and collaborate with Ackerman and some of the musicians who work with him. The production qualities in “The Color of Sunshine” are flawless and the sound is exquisite. Several of the fourteen tracks are solo acoustic guitar, and others include wordless vocals, flugelhorn, bass, violin, piano, percussion, and ukulele. Most of the additional instrumentation is subtle, giving Blatt plenty of room to work his finger-picking magic. The concept for the album is that light/color and sound/pitch are functions of vibrating waves that are similar and related. Music and moods are often described using the metaphor of color. From Blatt: “Given this natural relationship, I used colors as the inspiration for different moods and emotions on an entire album. I composed one piece after another working sequentially through the colors represented in the light spectrum which include red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. I then ordered the music on the CD in the sequence imposed by the light spectrum.” What a fascinating idea and what a great album! Blatt begins with “Look to the Sun,” a quiet, gentle prelude that sets the tone of the album. The title track follows with warm shades of sound that include Jeff Oster on horn, Ackerman on additional guitar, and Blatt on baritone guitar, piano, and Hopi drum - a rich but soft-spoken piece. “Gray Salt Marsh” is pure contentment, and features Blatt on steel string guitar and T-Bone Wolk on bass. “InFrared - The Abyss” joyfully picks up the tempo a few notches and features vocals by Noah Wilding, Ackerman, and Blatt behind the guitar and light percussion. I especially like “Alhambra (The Red),” which is slightly mysterious and eerie. Steve Schuch’s violin adds very effective atmospheric touches. I also really like “Orange Blossom Honey,” a ukulele piece that almost dances out of the CD player! My favorite track is “Jaune (Yellow),” which is slow and graceful with an air of mystery. The violin again adds all the right touches, setting this piece soaring, while the gentle percussion grounds it with a mildly exotic flavor. Great stuff! “Mar Azul” has a lively Spanish style. Rock rhythms and a country attitude make “Black Rock Beach” a lot of fun. It’s a toe-tapper, but won’t jar you out of the relaxing mood. Lawrence Blatt was New Age Reporter’s 2007 “Best New Artist” for good reason, and “The Color Of Sunshine” should put him back on the top of the charts. Check it out!

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Genre: Alternative Folk

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New age guitarist Lawrence Blatt grew up in Indiana and began studying the violin at the age of eight. In junior high school, he was a member of the Indiana Youth Symphony. He also studied the bass, and he took up the guitar at the age of 12. He graduated from Indiana University, where he studied music and microbiology. Moving to Los Angeles, he acquired a masters and a Ph.D. in science. He spent five years living in Boulder, CO, where he studied guitar with Laurence Juber. (Other teachers have included...
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The Color of Sunshine, Lawrence Blatt
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