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Juan Martin - Picasso Portraits CD (album) cover


Juan Martin


Prog Folk

4.89 | 9 ratings

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5 stars My review # 150 : flamenco meets prog, goose bumps!

When traditional flamenco guitarists are breaking the rules and start searching for a musical adventure, it's high alert for those who are interested in exciting and captivating encounters between flamenco and prog. Just listen to Paco the Lucia and his trio with John McLaughlin and Al DiMeola, and his awesome prog folk with The Paco De Lucia Sextet. Or flamenco legend Sabicas with Joe Beck, featuring a young Tony Levin. But this review is about Juan Martin, a flamenco player who wanted to broaden his musical horizon and moved to England. He wrote books about the flamenco guitar technique and played with a wide range of rock musicians. The album Picasso Portraits is one of his many musical projects and in my opinion a masterpiece. In 1981 it was released on vinyl and in 1994 as a CD reissue, it sounds excellent, more clear and more depth than the LP, but unfortunately no bonustracks. And the booklet is very simple, with only the original information and a list of CD's you can buy from Juan Martin.

On this record Juan Martin has invited an impressive list of guest musicians, including drummer Ian Mosley (Trace and Marillion), bass player John Gustafson (Quatermass and Roxy Music), Simon Phillips (one of the best session drummers of all times) and keyboardist Tony Hymas (with Simon Phillips on the splendid Jeff Beck albums Wired and There And Back). The result is an exciting meeting between the world of the flamenco guitar and the progressive rock, like the Rock Andaluz.

You can enjoy awesome musicianship and captivating atmospheres.

Great interplay between the quick flamenco guitar runs and a dynamic rhythm-section, embellished by the typical flamenco handclapping (palmas) in Harlequin.

A sensitive duet from the flamenco guitar and the Memorymoog synthesizer and halfway there is a sensational break featuring sweeping drums, spectacular synthesizer sounds and rattling castannettes. This is followed by a mid-tempo beat with splendid runs on the guitar and a fine colouring by the keyboards in Desire Caught By The Tail.

A swinging and catchy rhythm with a funky bass, powerful drums and exciting rasgueado play (quick downward strokes from the nails on the guitar strings) in Three Musicians,

An exciting blend of typcial flamenco elements (based a 'bulerias', one of the more complex flamenco rhythms) and the technical sound of the progrock: handclapping and quick flamenco runs blended with a funky bass and pitchbend-driven Moog flights in The Aficionado.

My highlights are two very special sounding compositions.

First Girls Of Algiers (based upon a 'zambra mora', the most Arabian-influenced flamenco rhythm): it starts with swelling keyboards, drums and bass, then great interplay between the flamenco guitar, keyboards and rhytm- section, very dynamic. The tension between the spectacular Moog flights from Hymas and the quick runs on the flamenco guitar delivers a captivating climate, in the end there is a magnificent duel, goose bumps!

Second The Picador: a cheerful climate ' malaguenas - with catchy and powerful interplay from the flamenco guitar, rhythm-section and keyboards featuring sensational Moog runs, halfway the music slows down and then goes faster and faster until an abundant atmosphere.

On this album also a wonderful, very sensitive solo flamenco guitar piece (Weeping Woman) and a short but sparkling version of Asturias by famous Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz, entitled Self Portrait (great interplay between the flamenco guitar and the drums and bass).

A masterpiece, in every way, and how exciting: a virtuosic and adventurous flamenco guitarist plays with oustanding progrock musicians who joined Trace, Marillion, Jeff Beck and Roxy Music, the best of two contrasting worlds, you can't beg for more. So highly recommended, especially to the fans of jazzrock, Rock Andaluz and progressive folk.

TenYearsAfter | 5/5 |


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