Saturday, December 6, 2008

Paco de Lucia - Cositas Buenas

I am ashamed to say that for most of my life I'd written off Paco De Lucia as a latin-jazz-fusion cheeseball. I'm not sure why exactly I made that judgment, considering I'd hardly heard any of his music, aside from one album by The Guitar Trio with Al Dimeola and John McLaughlin, which honestly, I don't rememeber. I think it may have been an opinion transferred to me by my older brother, who was a big influence on my music tastes for a long time. Anyways - when that brother handed me this album "Cositas Buenas" I was stunned. I had for some reason come to associate De Lucia with empty technical wankery and fusion corniness, but I was hearing something completely fresh to me - modernist flamenco! Off-kilter rhythms, unworldy vocals, beautiful melodic narratives carefully dancing around eachother - complex, but not in a way that places too much emphasis on Paco's virtuosity (of which there is plenty, wow) - but complex in all the right ways, to deepen and enrich the music. Perhaps nicest of all is that it's rare to find music this rich in intellectual musical fervor that is so plainly danceable - each song on this album is based on the rhythms of a traditional Flamenco dance form, but Paco explores every option that rhythm seems to allow - skirting around and in-between that rhythm to the point where it's barely recognizable. Perhaps I'm unusual in this regard, but my absolute favorite thing for music to be is surprising - this album consistently surprises. Beautiful, fun, and definitely surprising.

Here's a more sensible, to the point review:
For four decades, Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia's jazzy, Mephisto-like technique redefined flamenco. This CD, which means "Good Small Things," is de Lucia’s first release in five years, and it's been worth the wait. Most of the eight tracks feature just de Lucia, a chorus of vocalists, percussion, and the zesty handclaps called palmas. Lucia and company take you through the Moorish, Jewish, and Gypsy inventions and dimensions of flamenco, from the buleria "Patio Custodio" and the torrid tientos "El Tesorillo" to the moody, mid-tempo buleria por soleatres, foreshadows the future of this ancient and inventive art form. --Eugene Holley, Jr.


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