Sahara (Riverboat Records, 2003)
The Sahara Desert has been coming up a lot lately with world music recordings and now, Sahara comes up as the title of flamenco artist Javier Ruibal’s first international release. Javier is one of Spain’s best kept secrets and he has been enticing his fellow Spaniards with his poetry and musicianship since 1978.
Influenced by poets Federico Garcia Lorca and Alberti as well as, various popular styles of music, Javier composes songs that blend Caribbean, Arabic and flamenco rhythms and vocals. The songs are heavy on vocals and guitar, light on percussion (African, Latin, flamenco and Arabic) and embellished by string arrangements, horns and other exotic instruments that act as a backdrop for Javier’s sensual vocals. There is an old fashion element to his music that favors verse-chorus-verse and recalls the days when women would swoon to the tunes of Latin crooners and judging from the liner notes that were provided by David Flowers, a younger generation of women are learning to swoon to Javier’s poetry and vocals.
Javier’s songs are inspired by beautiful women and his poetry is mentioned often on the CD cover and press release, but unfortunately the bard’s words are not included with the CD. The songs on Sahara derive from two Spanish releases, Las Damas Primeras (released in 2001 on 18 Chulos Records) and Contrabando (released on PDI in 1997). The track, La Flor De Estambul features Javier’s poetry set to a famous piano work by Erik Satie. The highly recognizable piano piece has appeared on several European film soundtracks, but now the instrumental composition has been embellished with poetry.
The opening track, Isla Mujeres appeared on BBC Radio host Charlie Gillette’s World 2002 CD.
The tracks, Toito Cai Lo Traigo Andao and Vino y Beso mix salsa horns with flamenco vocals. Dame Tu Boca and Bella En Lisboa portray Spanish and flamenco guitar with flamenco vocals. Aurora meanders into Arabic territory that continues on other tracks.
Numerous Spanish musicians have been marrying Caribbean and Arabic music with flamenco. And a variety of stellar talent exist within this style of music. Javier stands out because he creates an intimate relationship with each of his listeners and he delivers his songs with integrity and passion. You can tell that he respects the characters of his songs even if you don’t speak a word of Spanish. And like his mentor Lorca, Javier sings about the landscape and people of his homeland and sometimes beyond. And as quoted by Charlie Gillette, “I like Javier very much….It’s from the heart, down here and places you don’t want to know about. His voice. I don’t understand the words, but I feel the
emotions.” And well, that about sums it up.
Compliments of Cranky Crow World Music