Solid As A Rock: Roland Guerin Is Not Waiting For A Stamp Of Approval
SEPTEMBER 26, 2019
by: JOHN WIRT
Roland Guerin keeps good company.
A master of six-string bass, he put the bottom in Allen Toussaint’s band during the composer-pianist-producer’s second act as a world-traveling concert artist. Guerin spent 2017, Dr. John’s final year of performing, as the singer-pianist’s bandleader. This fall, Guerin is touring Europe with the virtuoso hard-rock guitarist Paul Gilbert. His prestigious sideman work further includes Marcus Roberts, John Scofield, Mark Whitfield, George Benson, Ellis Marsalis, Gerry Mulligan and Jimmy Scott.
Moreover, in addition to being an in-demand bassist, Guerin writes, sings, plays and produces his own music. On October 18, Louisiana Red Hot Records will release his latest solo album, Grass Roots. The album mirrors Guerin’s broad and surprising influences. He sings lead for the project as well as multi-tracked clouds of backing vocals. The other Grass Roots players include Mike Esneault, piano; Chris Atkins, guitar; and drummers Herman LeBeaux Jr. and John Jones.
Grass Roots’ tracks include two Prince-like pop-rhythm-and-blues songs, “Running on Nightfumes” and “Inside Outside Upside Down;” the Peter Gabriel-inspired “Summer Moon”; the adventurous, almost rock of “Stick to the Basics” (with lyrics by Allen Toussaint); and the jazz-rock hybrid piece “To the Edge of Something.”
Lilli Lewis, head of the artist-and-repertoire department at Louisiana Red Hot Records—and an accomplished musician in her own right—said the subtlety and cinematic beauty in Guerin’s music persuaded her to sign him. “It’s as universal as anything any other New Orleans master might produce, but also wholly unto its own,” Lewis said. “Roland considers himself a New Orleans roots musician, but what he’s produced here is timeless and 100 percent unexpected.”
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