Flamenco is as much about strength of spirit as it is about outstanding musical ability, and both can be found in abundance on this 60-minute-plus collection of previously released tracks by some of the finest contemporary flamenco guitarists. Ranging from very traditional interpretations to tunes with jazz or classical arrangements, and from meditative solo pieces to raucous ensemble jams, Viva Flamenco! has something for every flamenco fan or fan-to-be.
Of the more traditional tracks, Pepe Habichuela’s “Al aire” was one of my favorites, with its effortless expression of a wide variety of moods, from moody darkness to boisterous exuberance. Tomatito’s “Montoya” also displayed complete control of the guitar, going from total silence to explosive runs on a moment’s notice, yet overall maintaining a lovely gentle feeling of the acceptance of loss as an unavoidable consequence of a full life. On the more experimental side, Miguel de la Bastide’s “El Cambio (edit)” had a beautiful polish, and flute, bass, and percussion accompaniment that reminded me of progressive jazz. And in one of the highlights of the disc, flamenco legend Paco de Lucia’s “Chanela” showcased his incredibly precise, pure, and crystalline guitar in a Latin jazz setting anchored by drums and very fine bass playing.
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