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Phil Lawrence | Blue Fire

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Chris Thile David Grisman Jerry Garcia

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United States - California - SF

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Jazz: Crossover Jazz Folk: Folk-Jazz Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Blue Fire

by Phil Lawrence

Original instrumental compositions for acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass, flute, and violin; influenced by David Grisman and Django Reinhardt, the CD explores a variety of musical genres: Latin jazz, gypsy swing, blues, rock, and synthesizes all styles.
Genre: Jazz: Crossover Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Sunday Groove
3:01 $0.99
2. Twilight in Sonoma
4:54 $0.99
3. Sebastopol Swing
3:39 $0.99
4. Deep in the Forest
3:09 $0.99
5. Pangea
4:49 $0.99
6. Blue Fire
3:47 $0.99
7. Laughing
1:28 $0.99
8. Flea Market Shuffle
4:43 $0.99
9. Dawg's Jig
2:54 $0.99
10. Django's Blues
3:44 $0.99
11. Una Sera a Siena
4:18 $0.99
12. Poem in D
2:06 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Blue Fire is a collection of twelve original instrumental compositions by Phil Lawrence. The CD was recorded and mixed by Phil Lawrence in his home recording studio. The bass parts were played by Eddie Guthman, the flute by Carrie Krueger, the violin by Richard Loheyde, and the tablas by Sahar Pinkham; all the other parts were played by Phil Lawrence—mandolins, guitars, congas, bongos, shakers, and octave mandolin.

The tunes represent a variety of genres and musical styles, reflecting Phil's wide ranging tastes and musical interests. The listener will encounter Brazilian sambas, gypsy jazz improvisations, a jazz waltz, an avant-garde jig, minor swing blues, a guitar finger-picking piece, a “classical” sounding tune, and a guitar ballad. Phil has been influenced mainly by David Grisman, the master of synthesizing musical genres to create compositions that defy categorization.

The opening number, “Sunday Groove,” is a lively tune in a major key. It's optimistic progressions, topped by layers of bright mandolin harmonies, invite the listener to explore deeper into the musical journey. It's followed by “Twilight in Sonoma,” a samba that Phil composed as a tribute to his home county in Northern California. In “Sebastopol Swing,” a passionate gypsy-jazz number, the mood immediately changes, as Richard Loheyde's violin evokes images of an Old World campfire scene. “Deep in the Forest” was composed in the woods of northeastern Oregon. Carrie Krueger's flute blends beautifully with Phil's mandolin, allowing the listener to imagine the peace and tranquility of the deep woods.

“Pangea” is a lively jazz waltz inspired by Carlos Santana's “Europa”: it has a similar chord progression although it is set to a three-quarter time signature, with a parallel minor bridge and a variant melody, to offer a completely different view of the Earth. The title track, “Blue Fire,” a Latin-jazz piece, has a melodic line that tempers the percussive heat of the congas and the tablas. “Laughing” is a twin mandolin musical jest designed to imitate the sound of laughter. “The Flea Market Shuffle” is a minor blues with a moderate swing rhythm. Its simplicity provides Phil with ample opportunities to stretch out on his solos. “Dawg's Jig” is Phil's tribute to David Grisman. Listen to the twin mandolins in harmony on this tune and follow the creative bass lines of Eddie Guthman in the improvisational middle section. “Django's Blues,” a tribute to Django Reinhardt, also contains an extended solo in a minor key. “Una Sera a Siena” is a harmonious ballad that features Phil's guitar playing, as does “Poem in D,” a finger-picking piece with a syncopated turnaround and a mandolin melody as a musical cherry on top.

Phil Lawrence plays a 1912 Gibson F2 mandolin, a unique instrument with a rich golden tone. He also uses a 1988 Martin D28 guitar, and a Gitane D500 Django Reinhardt-style guitar. The CD was digitally recorded and mixed using high quality microphones. It was mastered by Jason Andrews at Studio E in Sebastopol. The listener is encouraged to sit in a quiet place and play the CD on a good quality sound system to enjoy the full sonic qualities of the recording and the performances.

Excerpts from reviews of Phil Lawrence and his music:

"Phil’s beloved vintage Gibson mandolin with its oval sound hole, provides an unmistakable tone. Like a reference to much of the music he plays, the tonal quality of his longtime instrument is distinctly old world reflecting how mandolins were built and sounded for hundreds of years prior to luthier Lloyd Loar in the early 1920s. Unlike the modern introduction of “F hole” mandolins (think of a violin) the sound is deep and throaty with a slightly nasal character. Yet Phil is not afraid of the high end of his fretboard; like in the art and sport of fencing, he lightly and deliciously tickles the stratosphere only to then lunge into the cellar of the register. Mandolinists like Phil and the musical genius Andy Statman, have uniquely branded their sound using these instruments in matrimony to the musical styles they so love in a sea of more commonly heard f hole modeled instruments in these modern times."

Joe Craven, musician and bandmember in The David Grisman Quintet and The Garcia Grisman Band from Feb 2017 review in The Sonoma County Folk Society Bulletin

"I’ve owned the music store in Petaluma, Tall Toad Music, for the past 28 years and have come to know Phil Lawrence pretty well during that time. He is not only a wonderful human being but also a legendary musician in Northern California. Master mandolinist David Grisman once told me that Phil is the “second best mandolin player in Sonoma County” (deservedly reserving the #1 spot for himself). Phil has performed onstage with Mr Grisman and other top level musicians such as Mike Marshall and Chris Thile. He’s played regularly in established festival bands such as It’s A Beautiful Day and the Jubilee Klezmer ensemble. He has played in any number of local bands as a sideman and is a sought after session player on their recordings. He also plays guitar at a professional level."

Charlie Cowles, owner of Tall Toad Music Store in Petaluma

"Over the course of my life I have played with many, many musicians of various and varying abilities and have been mentored and in turn mentored others in my profession. I have had the great pleasure and fortune of working with some very well known characters in the world of music. In my many years of professional work, I have not met anyone to surpass Phil in ability, creativity, sensitivity or command. Not only is he a consummate side-man on any number of instruments, including being an absolute virtuoso on both mandolin and guitar, but a composer of inordinate talent. I am continuously impressed by Phil's prolific
outpourings displayed most recently in a published collection of his original and absolutely gorgeous music for mandolin."

Teresa Tudury, singer-songwriter.

"I have worked with Phil Lawrence for the last seven years. I can't speak too highly for his musicianship, his music, and his friendship. Phil is the consummate musician, songwriter, and someone you can always count on.Over the past couple of years I have had the pleasure of recording a number of his compositions...."

David LaFlamme, violinist and vocalist of It's A Beautiful Day



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