Apr. 7. 2017
Roman Street — Bohemia
When I first heard Roman Street on the radio, I could have sworn I was listening to one fine guitarist who’d perhaps either done some phenomenal overdubbing work to create such a symphony of two exotically played guitars or one who’d recruited well for help with the second guitar. Boy, was I ever wrong once I decided to go beyond remarking: “Just who is this Roman Street? He’s great!” to really setting out to find out. It turns out that the man I thought might hail from Europe or one of the Central or South American countries was actually a pair of homegrown American brothers from Mobile, Alabama! Say what? How totally cool is this? The “mysterious” Josh and Noah Thompson are actually no mystery at all, at least to many of the jazzers who’ve attended such events as Art Good’s annual Catalina Island Jazztrax Festival (they debuted there in 2013). Good said of their appearance there, “we were blown away. They outsold all other bands CDs at the JazzTrax store.” Quite an endorsement from one whose events are always top-tier.
The brothers’ new release, Bohemia, is another exotic and pure blend of Nuevo Flamenco, Gypsy, and Contemporary Jazz guaranteed to tease and excite followers of this type of music which they have mastered so well and play almost effortlessly.
So many colors and textures are explored here in this cornucopia of musical gems. Listen as they dance between the notes of the rousing lead track “Cinco” to the exotic and seductive “Adria” to the mid-tempo, sexy tango-like, violin-laced title track to the rhythmic and melodic charm of the lively “Island Time” to the snappy, jazzed-up “Mr. Morris” to the lazily romantic “Morningside” with its smooth jazz strolling-along-the-sun-kissed-beach groove to the razzmatazz swing of “Minor Swing” and on through the hot and lively flamenco finale “Strum.”
Never a dull moment here. Bring all of your positive vibes and moods to this party. This rich music will make good use of them. – Ronald Jackson
Mar. 6, 2017
Terra Guitarra – Of Sea & Stars
As exquisite, exotic, and magical as all of their reflective concept albums have been since I’ve been following them as not just a music critic but, admittedly, a big fan of their Nuevo Flamenco-influenced style, this talented and observant duo offers yet another gem called Of Sea & Stars. If you are ever able to tear yourself away from the beauty of their projects to focus on the intent of the albums – if only for a brief moment – you can get a clear sense of how deep their perception and concepts go – far beyond just creating great music. It’s always a true experience as they reach deep inside themselves, and invite you to do the same, to journey to new, unexplored spaces in and of the earth and all of its breathtaking awesomeness and outer space, as well as escorting one into their world of spiritual growth and awareness.
As lead guitarist and composer Bruce Hecksel puts it, “The music on Of Seas & Stars is meant to direct the listener to both contemplation and bliss.” That truly sums up the entire project –concept and music – in a nutshell. He also says – and mull this over for a moment– “There is a connectedness between the sea and the stars…For the most part, we have not yet reached the point where we are readily astute enough to accept knowledge that could be valuable to us, whether that means communicating with whales or deciphering messages from other places in the universe.” Oh, he has more, as he is extremely reflective and observant (a wonderful interview, I’ll bet).
In a bit of a summary, the duo believes that this album (with its newly introduced native wood flutes and other riveting sounds) “makes a correlation between the exploration of Earth’s oceans and outer space because both represent places that have to be journeyed across to settle new lands and gain additional insights into human consciousness, spiritual awakening, and scientific knowledge.” Deep? You bet! Even the awe-inspiring cover art of the CD gets more than a nod from your truly.
O.k., let’s talk about the deeply penetrating vibes of the music itself, shall we? From the lead track “Wave Walker,” a Terra Guitarra signature piece that typifies (as much as one can typify this great material) the essence of their satisfying sound, throughout the journey that is this album all the way to track 13’s “Aurora,” there are simply no bad tracks. Each tune breathes on its own and tells a magnificent story, often inspiring, panoramic, melodic, and full. The very seductive nature of this style of music only further enhances its appeal and message.
Rather than singling out tracks, you simply have to hear this as one complete symphony of sorts, one experience that cannot be dissected without losing something. Enjoy this as the complete entity it is. You’ll be so grateful that you did! – Ronald Jackson
July 17, 2016
Ciro Hurtado — Selva
Two years ago, I had the pleasure of discovering the music of Peruvian guitarist Ciro Hurtado, an artist most capable of weaving dreams through his Latin influence and exotically colorful compositions. Here again is the guitarist with his latest, Selva, which holds up well against his previous album Ayahuasca Dreams.
Selva is a wonderfully eclectic blend of various Latin American neighbors of Peru, as well as some Cuban influences. It is, as he states, “a collection of compositions based on Latin America Folk music and instrumentation with world influences.”
There is, in fact a nod to a lot of World grooves interwoven into the Latin fabric as tracks like “Asi Eres Tu En Mi Corazon” and Corre, Salta Y Vuela” will demonstrate. The masterful and strategic use of such exotic as the charango, cajόn, zapoñas, quena, and quijada. No, don’t ask me about any of them as I too am pleasantly getting acquainted with them, and through this recording, I may just become conversant on them. Who knows?
The effect of the flute is prominently heard here though not mentioned; so, I suspect that one of the aforementioned instruments mimics it. Whatever the case, this is most riveting and caressingly beautiful and romantic music – the kind of music that makes romance the salient art form for the soul that it is.
There are simply too many wonderful tunes here to pick faves, but I will say that “Un Pacto De Amor” ranks high on my list. It, like so many of these compositions, is loaded with beautiful melody, charm, and a bit of subtle seduction.
Always a favorite genre of mine, this type of Latin music — along with Nuevo Flamenco – always hits me where I live and can transport me to any buoyant, flowery, rainbow-laced oasis I choose. Bravo to Hurtado once again for knowing which buttons to push on Latin music lovers everywhere. – Ronald Jackson