Vasco Hernandez,
Luz De Otra Manera
(ARC, 2013)

What has become known as new flamenco or nouveau flamenco began in the 1950s and came to a head in the 1980s, with musicians fusing traditional flamenco with jazz and other forms of music to reach a wider, contemporary audience.

With no fear of dating myself, I first heard it when I bought an LP called Flamenco Fire released in 1958 by Carlos Montoya, a pioneer of the modern style.

Actually, flamenco has long been a fusion of musical styles. Cante jondo, the most serious of the palos (styles), clearly shows traces of Arabic, Jewish and other music mingled with the traditional Spanish folk music.

Hernandez continues this in a good way, not neglecting tradition but giving it a new interpretation that is fresh and inspiring. For most of the selections here, he favors the buleria style, the most popular and dramatic of flamenco forms.

A resident of Barcelona since 2006, he recorded his album the following year and his reputation has steadily increased since. Surprisingly, he has had no formal training, finding his own way with the instrument after being given one for his 12th birthday.

There's a traditional basis to the 10 tracks, each infused with an original interpretation. Some are closer to the traditional palos (style) while others show a different influence. A few personal favorites are "Algarabias," "Aqua y Luna," "Noche y Solea" and the Arabic-influenced "Al Raso." But all 10 are good listening.

Hernandez's guitar is backed by Vanesa Lledo, vocals and palmas (clapping); Diego "El Gavi," vocals; Carlos Mil-Homens, cajon, tinaja and palmas; Violeta Barrio, palmas; Mariano Martos, bass guitar, and Joao Baldo, tinaja, caxixi.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
John Lindermuth

11 January 2014

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