Monday, December 6, 2010

In review--Ole!

Adam del Monte
Asì lo siento yo

I’ve found over the years that flamenco music must possess authentication, either the musician was born into an Andalusian family of flamenco origins or lived in Andalusia at some point and studied with the flamenco masters. Years of listening, observing and practicing flamenco follow until the flamenco musician is ready to strike out on his or her own with enough passion in tow. Flamenco more than anything revolves around feelings and emotions. A musician might have the chops, but if he or she can’t take you to that place called duende, then the musician loses the heart of flamenco. Today you will find both old flamenco with its rustic pastiche and nuevo flamenco pioneered by Tomatito, Paco de Lucia and others. You’ll even hear flamenco fused to Cuban son, rock and jazz music.

So how does someone such as me, not trained in flamenco, review a flamenco album? I’ve probably journeyed to the place of duende several times as a music listener, and I know an array of strong emotions firsthand. So this is the place where I begin. Besides, when I’m reviewing American musicians who perform flamenco music, I feel more at home. Take for instance, flamenco guitarist-composer-arranger Adam del Monte who on his album asì lo siento yo fuses flamenco guitar with Latin jazz sensibilities. I was reminded of Paco de Lucia’s work several times while listening to this recording, especially on the tracks with Guadiana’s vocals, the titular track (bulerìa), and Ecos Ladinos (granadìna).

The opener, Puntào (rumba), with its saxophone, bass, percussion, and palmas could have come straight out of the documentary Calle 54, due to its innovative approach. And certainly it ignites the album sending listeners on a sizzling journey. The most beautiful tracks are Ecos Ladinos with vocals, cello, and guitar and Sombras del paradise (minèra), in which del Monte strips everything away except his guitar. By contrasting the solo guitar with the arranged pieces, listeners get a glimpse of del Monte’s talent as a composer and a guitarist. Certainly, I would imagine that Adam del Monte received a seal of authentication from all the great talent he’s collaborated. And I applaud his music. Truly this is beautiful music with heart and soul.

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