Robert Earl Longley
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Robert Earl Longley Biography
Robert Earl Longley, also known as “Robby,” is a world-class level guitarist and symphonic composer from New Orleans whose original compositions are available on eight CDs and a ninth to be released soon. In addition, Robert composed two powerful soundtracks for films that screened at the Sundance Film Festival. In his concert material, Robert’s jaw-dropping fingerstyle techniques on the flamenco guitar always deliver fresh, sophisticated Third Stream-like jazzy melodies within classically inspired movements rather than producing traditional flamenco music as one would expect. Besides using a wide variety of musical instruments, the guitar is present in all of Robert’s compositions. Perhaps his love of the acoustic guitar is a throwback from his Andalusian ancestry on his mother’s side. To be sure, “It’s almost as if he is not playing, but instead whatever he is feeling is coming out of the guitar,” as one audience member put it. Robert confirms this in reply,
“As a child, I strummed the guitar unconsciously. As a young man, I endeavored to strum it consciously. Now, I strum the guitar as I did as a child---unconsciously. That is to say, the guitar plays itself through me.
From childhood, Robert’s talent for music was fostered by his parents who exposed him to the inescapable influence of jazz and blues from nearby New Orleans along with the classical composers and such guitar artists as Carlos Montoya, Chet Atkins, Paco de Lucia and Julian Bream. As an adolescent, Robert found himself further inspired by the groundbreaking keyboard virtuosity of Keith Emerson who, ironically, claimed to have been inspired by the guitar work of Pete Townsend and Jimmy Hendrix. Having fused all these influences into his own original fingerstyle guitar sound, Robert then moved to Los Angeles where he entered eight local guitar competitions within a two-year period and took first place in all eight. This was all the impetus he needed to express himself as he does today, unencumbered by style or tradition.
In fact, Robert’s music defies the accepted genres of style because to him, the dogma of tradition is quite stifling. This music is not straight flamenco. Although it sounds Spanish, it is not that. It could have been lifted out of a classical film score, but it wasn’t. Its polyrhythmic improvisations are jazz-like, but it is not straight ahead Jazz. It wrenches your emotions like Blues, but it isn’t that either. When an audience is completely taken in by a piece of music, categorization suddenly becomes irrelevant. And Robert makes no excuses for it either when he says,
“There’s nothing legitimate about what I do. I know I am the bastard child of flamenco and classical guitar, and I prefer it that way.”
Robert Earl Longley, recording artist and guitar hero for aficionados, has great mainstream appeal at live performances. He is the singular artist who appears only once in each generation to bring a unique musical style to his era.
BODY OF WORK IN CDs
(1995) original orchestral & guitar
(1997) original orchestral & guitar
(1999) original orchestral & solo guitar
Guitar Noir, Vol. 1
(2000) original solo guitar (in studio)
(2001) original orchestral & guitar
Chasing the Dragon
(2002) original orchestral & guitar
(2003) original solo guitar (live show)
(2005) original variations of traditional
Christmas carols for guitar &
(2006) original guitar, Mellotron &