Roger Scannura
& Ritmo Flamenco,
(self-produced, 2001)

Misterio is one of the more beautiful CDs I've heard in a while. Roger Scannura and his band, Ritmo Flamenco, have released a short, yet sweet, winner with this album. Scannura, a flamenco guitarist, displays his talent in the Nuevo flamenco movement. While this genre might not appeal to flamenco purists, as it incorporates AfroCuban rhythms as well as some Gypsy influences, it will definitely appeal to a wide audience.

Scannura's experience with the 800-year-old tradition of flamenco goes back two decades and includes a three year stint " and studying with the Gypsies of southern Spain," according to promotional materials. It was during this time that he learned the "compas," which are a core set of 60 different rhythms forming the base of this style of music. I should probably mention that Scannura is originally from the island of Malta but is now a Canadian resident.

Ritmo Flamenco consists of several talented musicians and dancers. Scannura is joined by his wife, Valerie, who not only dances, but also provides backing vocals and palmas (clapping). Kevin "Quevedo" Smith takes care of percussion while Laurence Stevenson plays fiddle, mandolin and synthesizer. Alvaro Oyarce plays guitar, palmas and sings as well.

Something that I found interesting from the promotional material was that the flamenco dancer is considered as much of a musician as the rest of the band. It is the dancer who is in charge. Using their feet, the dancers dictate what the guitarist is to do. I did not know that!

If I have any issue with Misterio it would have to do with the CD's length. There are eight selections that translate to less than 33 minutes of music. Perhaps this CD is only a teaser to get you to check out Scannura's previous three CDs: Ritmo Flamenco (more traditional flamenco), Saracen (jazz based) and Medina (Moorish influence).

Misterio is a must-have CD of those who enjoy world music in general and Nuevo flamenco in particular. The playing style is superb, the vocals are engaging and the rhythm is wonderful. I would not even be surprised to find out that most flamenco purists would find something on this CD to enjoy. Despite the short playing time, I feel this CD is worth checking out.

[ by Wil Owen ]
Rambles: 25 May 2002