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Caracoleo "caracoleo" (London)

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Brillo De Luna
Brillo De Luna

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Guadiana takes a leap of faith, 13 Jan 2012
This review is from: Brillo De Luna (Audio CD)
This is the second album from the flamenco singer from Extremadura, which follows on from "Cuando El Rio Suena." As such, it is an assured recording with a number of unexpected flourishes which may perhaps not be to everyone's taste. But you have to hand it to him, it is unquestionably an adventurous recording, and definitely has its heart and soul in flamenco.

He has a real boombox of a voice, which he honed in the valleys and hills of Extremadura. He bellows through bulerias, tangos and rumbas which are all thoughtfully phrased while still showcasing a great command of rhythms. When he sings a buleria - you know it. The musicianship is also excellent, showcasing some of the best in contemporary flamenco guitar (Josemi Carmona, El Viejin...) as well as some up and coming talent which deserves to be heard. Special mention also to the percussionists on this recording who perform brilliantly on the the more rhythmical styles.

The rub is when it comes to the slower styles requiring a greater sense of vulnerability - or fragility from Guadiana. The capacity to express inner pain, loss, isolation and inner torment. Guadiana has a voice like a sonic boom, however, and he does;t do vulnerability or fragility.

He comes in with a Verdiales (El Extranjero), which is an adaptation of a French traditional chanson. The Seguiriyas are again a fusion of sorts - and while certainly not 'bad' they are not heart rendering laments on the loss of loved ones. So while all this is good, there is a sense that Guadiana still has some way to go before he can regarded as a 'complete' master of his art.

This album is nonetheless an excellent work of an updated form of flamenco. It showcases the talents of a man more confident in his art than in his first outing. An artist who has definitely something to contribute to the ever evolving art of flamenco.

Piano Jondo
Piano Jondo
Price: 15.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Better Things To Come, 27 May 2008
This review is from: Piano Jondo (Audio CD)
Diego Amador is the youngest, and some argue the most adventurous, of the brothers Amador, a family that from the 70s set out to renew flamenco and open it up to new musical horizons. Raimundo, the oldest, is BB King's side man of choice. Rafael was the leader of Pata Negra, a rock / flamenco fusion group. So what about the Diego? He is multi instrumentalist who can perform on guitar, bass and piano as well as vocals. Amazingly, he is entirely self-taught.

After being spotted by a couple of Blue Note directors while soloing at a jazz festival, he was encouraged to produce an album of flamenco tracks on piano. And this is the result - the acclaimed Piano Jondo. Jondo is the word flamencos use describe 'real' traditional flamenco, as opposed to pop influenced 'Gypsy Kings' style uptempo stuff. So how 'Jondo' is this? Well, not very, in my honest opinion. It owes more to jazz, blues and latin music than the title lets on.

The best tunes are the uptempo ones, bulerias, buleria por solea and the tanguillos in particular, are handled with gusto. But I'm not sure what the intention was with the seguiriya. What should have been a slow paced, mournful lament seems a bit of a mess and becomes unrecognisable. Elsewhere, Diego Amador gets it right on the nose interpreting the taranta, which starts off with a whimsical falseta and modulates it until it finishes in an emotionally charged flourish, evoking all the despair of the dispossessed.

So there is plenty of good to say about this recording. But it doesn't come across as flamenco enough. Of course, there is always the argument that that's because he is on the piano. But that argument doesn't stand. Flamenco will always sound flamenco irrespective of what instrument it's played on. Here, we get jazz, blues and latin chords all thrown into the mix, which is fine - just don't call it 'Jondo'.

But maybe one day, when he is brave enough, and mature enough, he will revisit this idea and produce an album of true flamenco - on the piano. An album that reflects flamenco's rich musical heritage, and one that emanates from the true foundations of flamenco - the souls of the dispossessed.

La Leyenda Del Tiempo
La Leyenda Del Tiempo

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cosmic Flamenco!, 25 Feb 2008
This review is from: La Leyenda Del Tiempo (Audio CD)
After several years of success within the flamenco fraternity Camaron was, by 1979, ready to try his hand at something big, really big. For a while an air of disatisfaction with the status quo governing orthodox flamenco circles had been bubbling inside. Camaron was about to burst the bubble.

Mario Pachon got a group of sessions players together and locked them in an old Andalucian house for a fortnight with some amped instruments (and plenty of weed).The result was something that not only rocked flamenco to the core, but laid the way for future musicians to explore new territory without fear of recrimination, safe in the knowledge that, flamenco, like any other musical idiom, has the right to adapt and interact with other styles and influences.

This recording emerges as an incredible head of creative steam with bulerias, bamberas, alegrias, tangos all dazzling. Styles are broken up, reinvented, twisted and put back together with alarming indifference to tradition. Guitar interplays with electric bass, drums, flute and synthesiser in a swirl of ideas. Frenetic handclapping, drums substituting foot stamping - searing electric guitar solos. Nothing is sacred here.

It doesn't all work out perfectly however. The moog synthesiser oozes cheesiness, where once it would have been the epitome of cutting edge production. The electric bass is thick and blocky, without any of the gurgling jazziness that Carles Benavent would later bring to it. But it is brave and wears its heart on its sleeve - as any good flamenco should.

And there are real gems. The solea por buleria is as good as it gets, and has even resulted in a spat among the artists involved aver who should get the most credit for it. There is the remarkable La Tarara, which opens as a mournful taranta, transforming into a tango and finishes off with an electric guitar solo. Finally, worth the price of the cd alone - the Nana Del Caballo Grande, an absolute spine tingling track with Camaron backed up by sitar! Pure heaven!

Another reason for any flamenco aficionado to buy this recording is to hear a young whippersnapper named Tomatito on guitar. He absolutely explodes with energy from the first moment and it is shocking to think that he didn't even appear on the credits of the original!

Not a recording that will please everyone, and in fact in its day it sold less 10,000 copies, I believe. Nevertheless, this recording marks a 'before' and 'after' in the history of flamenco.

Vivencias Imaginadas
Vivencias Imaginadas
Price: 7.73

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vicente Amigo's Best, 20 Feb 2008
This review is from: Vivencias Imaginadas (Audio CD)
Already a big star in the flamenco world when he dropped this megaton of a recording, Vicente Amigo has since gone on to international stardom as the new face of flamenco. This, in my opinion is his most balanced recording, innovative without forgetting its routes. Vicente Amigo's guitar is uniquely percussive, but also evokes old Andalouse through the incorporation of Arabic atonality. A beautiful mixture.

Added to this mix is Tino Di Geraldo on percussion - who does a stirling job, and just as notable is the trumpet player whose name escapes me now. Nevertheless, the addition of trumpet, with its mournful squelching tones is a perfect foil for a rasping flamenco guitar and I'm surprised that this isn't an element that has been further developed in flamenco. However, as a jazzman once said, "just can't find any good trumpet players anymore." The collaborations don't end there. The gravelly voiced Duquende, whose own career has really started to flourish in the last 2 years, adds an extra dimension to a couple of tracks. Paco De Lucia also turns up to collaborate with Amigo on the 'free composition' dedicated to Pat Metheny.

There's also a good mix of styles; bulerias, rumbas, fandangos and tanguillos... but sadly no solea, seguirilla or tangos. As I said before, it is his best recording in my opinion, but no doubt others will plump for 'La Ciudad De Las Ideas' or 'Un Momento En El Sonido'. I just find that at times Vicente Amigo's recordings sound overproduced and 'glossy'. Recently he seems reluctant to get 'dirty', cardinal sin for a flamenco musician, frankly. Luckily, that's not quite the case here. Pulsating rhythms interweave with complex textures and beautiful melody and manage to avoid the over romantic pap that infects some of his work. Here, Vicente Amigo's sound retains the heart of the flamenco musical aesthetic.

Live...One Summer Night
Live...One Summer Night
Price: 8.38

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Jazz - Flamenco Cross Over! Inspired!, 20 Feb 2008
This review is from: Live...One Summer Night (Audio CD)
This is really where it all started for me. This is the one that hooked me into flamenco all those years ago and still now it is one of the most satisfying listening experiences out there for me - in any musical idiom.

Although in the 70s some flamenco artists had imported some jazz stylings into their recordings surely nothing can compare to the dizzying solo and ensemble playing on this recording. It contains what must be the ultimate rumba - a variation on the classic 'Entre Dos Aguas' which culminates in a frenetic call and retrun between Paco and his reed man Jorge Pardo. Stunning. What about 'Solo Quiero Caminar'? It is a landmark track, Tangos, slowed down to a groove infested 4/4 rhythm. How many Flamenco artisits did this track influence? All of them!

Make no mistake, this isn't lounge Flamenco. This is a sweaty, hardcore musical work out combining the talents of some of the most capable musicians in Spain with the number 1 guitarist in the world, a group that had been building up to this moment for a number of years. And Flamenco would never be the same again.

A Mandeli
A Mandeli
Price: 12.03

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly Excellent, 30 May 2007
This review is from: A Mandeli (Audio CD)
This guy never misses - three albums: three brilliant works of art. If you're new to his work, or Flamenco, this might not be the place to start. When I first listened to it I found it a little harsh on the ears, those dry, rasping rasgueados of his. Of course, it's Flamenco - it's supposed to sound harsh.

This is his first solo album and it's a great concoction of traditional concepts carried out with a forward looking perspective, all held together by truly gobsmacking technique. Throughout the album you have to keep reminding yourself that there is only one guitar at work here, no overdubs, no sidemen. Astounding.

It's pointless to try to single out best tracks, because they are all so good. I suppose the more percussive ones might attract listeners at first. The Tangos, Bulerias and Rumbas are all great - and Carles Benavent should take credit for excellent contributions on electric bass. A truly unique sound despite a legion of second rate copy cats. Also credit to the handclapping of Guadiana on Bulerias, so accurate Habichuela named a track after him!

It is also worth paying attention to the slower tracks, the Solea and the Granaina because there is so much depth to the playing. Every time I listen to them I feel like I'm hearing something new, something I didn't pick up on last time - and that's often said to be the true mark of inspired musicianship.

Sorderita (Mi Secreto Pirata)
Sorderita (Mi Secreto Pirata)
Price: 17.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How To Ruin A Good Idea, 30 May 2007
This was supposed to be the definitive album by a man with a rich Flamenco ancestry, and a talent for exploring more popular musical forms. It was going to be a glorious marriage of tradition and innovation. How could you expect any less from the son of El Sordera, and the brother of Vicente Soto, both Flamenco heavyweights themselves? Sorderita is also one of the founders of Ketama, a group responsible for uniting Flamenco rhythms and harmonies with Latin flavours. Who can forget the resounding success of the Songhai collaboration with Mali's Toumani Diabate?

This man undoubtably has a knack for making music. His voice is somewhat 'tinny' compared to most Flamenco singers, but it is nvertheless, wonderfully disonnant with a great sense of rhythm. He capably transmits the elements of true Flamenco; disaffection, marginalisation, futility and loss. He also teams up with the best of the best in Flamenco guitar; the Habichielas, Moraito Chico and Canizares. All of this talent bears fruit in the first Bulerias and the Taranta - wonderfully executed.

So where does this recording go wrong? For me, it's the addition of the synthesizer (stand up Chano Dominguez and Co). A synthesizer should never be allowed on a Solea - just criminal, even a mere stab on the keyboard here and there just to punctuate rhythm is just plain wrong. The keys ruining the Alegrias sound like something I could've made up with my mobile ringtone composer! Later on, Domiguez finishes off a Buleria with a few bars of Salsa piano. Why? It was fine up to that point. Utterly pointless.

This album though, is not without its highlights. The final track in my own opinion is one of the greatest Flamenco compostions recorded. It's a Seguiriya, that most solemn of Flamenco forms associated with death and loss. The most intimidating and difficult form for any singer to take on. Sorderita does an admirable job of it - transmiting a real sense of loss through hi piercing wails, but the real star in my view, is the man accompanying him on ... piano! Manuel Pavon.

Where the piano / synthesizer keys earlier in the record served to destroy all the musical ideas that were built up, Pavon's piano shows everyone how it should be done. For starters it sounds startlingly Flamenco, from the first notes. It's so natural, transmiting all that pent up grief and unleashing it in a wave of aural emotion. Pavon knows what he is doing, and he should, he was playing Flamenco piano - not Jazz - since the fifties. Great choice. Great track. Poor album.

Jerez  Xeres  Sherry
Jerez Xeres Sherry
Price: 10.94

2.0 out of 5 stars Cringe Inducing, 30 May 2007
This review is from: Jerez Xeres Sherry (Audio CD)
I usually like it when artists push the bounds of their art, mess up heads and open people's minds to new perspectives. On this album, the original gypsy singer, La Macanita, is teamed up with Jazz / Flamenco pianist, Chano Dominguez and a battery of Latin percussionists. Thought provoking.

So, how do they go about overcoming the musical hurdles this grouping might throw up, and finding common idioms to explore? Well, La Macanita releases the 'saltiness' of her movingly cracked voice in a somewhat more restrained manner than usual. Dominguez jams away at the keys as if he were accompanying, well, just about any other Latin crooner. Smooth, treacle melodies you might hear in the clubs of Havana. Except this isn't Omara Portuondo and the Buenavista Social Club. It's La Macanita De Jerez, gypsy by ancestry, artist by nature. Her rasping voice at odds with Dominguez' lyrical piano work, they both tug at each other without finding any common direction. Conga percussion simply adds to the confusion, giving rise to 1 simple question: Why?

It didn't have to be like this. La Macanita is a traditional Flamenco singer through and through. Her voice transmits a thousand years of musical heritage, a talent that just runs through her veins. She deserves to make a definitive discographic statement without being asked to take on new styles for the benefit of a momentary fad.

The producer, Ricardo Pachon must be aware of this because he does offer us a couple of gems on this album too. Firstly, he also pairs her up with the like minded guitarist Moraito Chico. Together they come up with an honest and earthy Buleria, and then you see what La Macanita is all about. They also offer us a glorious Solea, rich in tone, steeped in sadness and longing. Now you're listening to real music!

Unfortunately it's too little, too late. Despite the near permanent presence of Moraito on guitar, the album sounds more like 2 or 3 albums spliced together, with La Macanita sounding very uncomfortable on many of the tracks.

Spain-Aroma,Flamenco Vivo-""
Spain-Aroma,Flamenco Vivo-""

3.0 out of 5 stars Very Underrated - Highly Innovative, 29 May 2007
I'd never heard of this guy until this cd came out - but apparently he had done the rounds with various dance troops. He is blessed with fantastic technique - every note as clean as a whistle, with clockwork rhythm. For those of you who love crisp, clean melodies, this could be your man. Unfortunately, not every Flamenco fan is into melodic structure, and that might explain his unjustifiable lack of public recognition. This CD really showcases his talent for melody, harmonies and a multi instrumental approach to creating Flamenco.

Although he leads with his guitar he affords plenty of scope to his sidemen on bass, piano and bandaneon to really develop and explore his ideas. In my experience, due to ego, not many guitarists are brave enough to share the limelight with the sidemen. And what sidemen. Javier Colina is an excellent bass player, and more importantly, not a Benavent (electric bass) clone. What a relief. He is no slouch on bandaneon either and it's good to see artists using sensitivity when complementing Flamenco guitar with other instruments. Chano Dominguez, a big name in Spanish Jazz and Flamenco circles also features heavily on this CD with his piano. I am not a fan. To me his work rarely sounds Flamenco and generally sounds too 'light'. On this CD he is ... alright. A pleasant surprise. His playing sounds much 'weightier' with a real Flamenco feel. Vocal backup is of a similarly high standard thanks in particular to the contribution of Eva Duran. Her deep and disonnant wails make an interesting juxtaposition with Monton's emphasis on harmony and melody.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this CD, with its excellent production, and its novel and playful approach to Rumba, Buleria, Alegrias and Colombianas. There is also a spine tingling Solea Por Buleria and a very solemn Taranta which definitely recall Flamenco's Arab heritage and break up the album to great effect.

This album appears to be out of print, but if you can, don't hesitate to get hold of a used copy.

Canciones Populares Antiguas
Canciones Populares Antiguas

5.0 out of 5 stars Must Be Re-Released!!!, 25 May 2007
The fact that this is no longer available is a huge injustice to all music fans. It's also hard to believe as only a couple of years ago she was performing this material live at the Barbican in London.

The record itself is simply outstanding on every level. Linares is THE diva of Flamenco song. Power, grace, subtlety and passion. She does it all to perfection, without ever trying to overdo it, a common mistake in Flamenco, borne out of egotistical desire to 'show off'. She is accompanied by the trusty Miguel Angel Cortes (check out his latest work - excellent) on guitar, a perfect foil. He lays down wonderfully intricate patterns to adorn the voice of Linares.

But this CD is more than a simple anthology of Flamenco tracks. It's voyage into the past - back to the very origins of early flamenco influences and features songs which can be traced back to Arab/Judeo times, which were dug up by the famous poet Federico Garcia Lorca (a huge Flamenco fan). In other words this is a huge chunk of Spanish musical heritage, and credit where credit's due; Linares handles the whole thing exquisitely.

Production is top notch. In fact, you won't hear a better produced Flamenco record. Linares is accompanied by the brilliant, and woefully underrated percusionist 'El Gali'. He plays box drums, drums (yes - drums) and tablas - and he gets it right every time. Shame he passed away before his time a few years ago because he was really on the verge of adding a new dimension to the world of Flamenco.

The man who put it all together is, surprisingly, Bernardo Parilla, a flamenco violinist who really adds colour and texture to the whole work. I say surprisingly because despite his auspicious family heritage (big Flamenco family) he has never featured so importantly on any other work, let alone one of this quality.

Sadl this CD is now unavailable - but if you can snag a second hand copy don't think twice!

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