Their internationally popular recordings, televised concerts, and live performances, Young & Rollins have established themselves as one of today's most innovative Latin guitar groups. Dan Young and Lawson Rollins began collaborating after a chance meeting in a Washington, D.C., flamenco guitar shop in 1998. They came from different musical backgrounds - Lawson started out as a classically trained guitarist before moving into Latin American guitar styles, while Dan holds a degree in jazz from the New School University in New York City - but they immediately realized that they shared a similar musical vision. Both had a profound love of Latin music, particularly the Brazilian, salsa, and flamenco traditions, as well as an appreciation of the contemporary developments in those genres. But in their own work, they sought to move beyond the often confining boundaries of musical genres.
"Basically, we're striving to break down artificial barriers that have evolved in music. We've tried to open ourselves up to a diversity of influences and to explore new paths for creative expression," Dan explains. Lawson agrees: "Working together has really forced us to combine elements of our very different musical backgrounds and has resulted in a natural fusion process. Young & Rollins is really a hybrid of different styles that joins our enthusiasm for experimentation with a respect for different musical traditions."
Soon after meeting, Lawson and Dan began playing together, and their unique sound attracted a loyal following. Focusing on originality and experimentation, they mainly perform their own compositions, which draw upon an eclectic mixture of salsa, Latin jazz, blues, samba, bossa nova, flamenco, and classical styles. Their work is noted for its complex arrangements and unexpected melodic development, performed with bold virtuosity and improvisational flair. Through collaborations with several acclaimed musicians, they expanded to a quintet format, in which percussive rhythms and bass lines highlight the fast-paced interplay between the two guitarists.
Young & Rollins released their debut recording, Salsa Flamenca, on Baja/TSR Records in 2000 and immediately received much critical acclaim for their original music. The prestigious Latin American Folk Institute declared Salsa Flamenca
"one of this year's best, an album to be treasured" and wrote, "Rarely do we find a debut album in which every song is as musically vibrant and masterfully performed." After receiving such praise - as well as significant radio play both nationally and internationally - Salsa Flamenca
went on to enter the Billboard top 25 charts in October, 2000. Following the success of Salsa Flamenca
, Young & Rollins released their second album of new original music, Sevilla
, in November, 2001. The album was heralded in Esquire magazine as "dynamic world music", while JAZZIZ magazine wrote: "They have done their homework, mastering an eclectic variety of styles that are combined in their compositions and improvisations - Latin jazz, blues, Flamenco, classical, even reggae."
In 2003, Young & Rollins performed several sold out shows at Australia's Perth International Arts Festival. They made a successful return to the Perth festival in February 2004 for 4 performances, and went on to perform at the Sydney Opera House
and the New Zealand International Arts Festival in March 2004.
Their third album of original music, "Esperanza
", was released on March 8th, 2005, on Bolero Records
, and it has been heralded by fans and critics as their best work so far. The Washington Post wrote, "While 'Esperanza' is very much a band effort, its distinguishing factor is the deft technical precision and evocative composition skills of Rollins and Young." More Young & Rollins releases with Bolero Records are in the works!