The Heart and Soul of Flamenco Guitar: Adam del Monte

Adam del Monte

Así lo siento yo (Independent release, 2010)

I’ve found over the years that flamenco music must possess authentication, either the musician was born into an Andalusian family of flamenco origins or lived in Andalusia at some point and studied with the flamenco masters.

ears of listening, observing and practicing flamenco follow until the flamenco musician is ready to strike out on his or her own with enough passion in tow. Flamenco more than anything revolves around feelings and emotions. A musician might have the chops, but if he or she can’t take you to that place called duende, then the musician loses the heart of flamenco. Today you will find both old flamenco with its rustic pastiche and nuevo flamenco pioneered by Tomatito, Paco de Lucia and others. You’ll even hear flamenco fused to Cuban son, rock and jazz music.

So how does someone such as me, not trained in flamenco, review a flamenco album? I’ve probably journeyed to the place of duende several times as a music listener, and I know an array of strong emotions firsthand. So this is the place where I begin. Besides, when I’m reviewing American musicians who perform flamenco music, I feel more at home. Take for instance, flamenco guitarist-composer-arranger Adam del Monte who on his album “así lo siento yo” fuses flamenco guitar with Latin jazz sensibilities. I was reminded of Paco de Lucia’s work several times while listening to this recording, especially on the tracks with Guadiana’s vocals, the titular track (bulería), and “Ecos Ladinos” (granadina).

The opener, “Puntáo” (rumba), with its saxophone, bass, percussion, and palmas could have come straight out of the documentary “Calle 54,” due to its innovative approach. And certainly it ignites the album sending listeners on a sizzling journey.

The most beautiful tracks are “Ecos Ladinos” with vocals, cello, and guitar and “Sombras del paradise” (minèra), in which del Monte strips everything away except his guitar. By contrasting the solo guitar with the arranged pieces, listeners get a glimpse of del Monte’s talent as a composer and a guitarist. Certainly, I would imagine that Adam del Monte received a seal of authentication from all the great talent he’s collaborated. And I applaud his music. Truly this is beautiful music with heart and soul.

Patricia Herlevi hosts the Whole Music Experience blog where she explores the healing power of music and community building. She’s contributed to World Music Central since 2003 and has just about covered every kind of world music, well, almost.

Author: PatriciaHerlevi

Patricia Herlevi is a former music journalist turned music researcher. She is especially interested in raising music consciousness. She is looking for an agent and publisher for her book Whole Music (Soul Food for the Mind Body Spirit). She founded and hosts the blog
The Whole Music Experience and has contributed to World Music Central since 2003.

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2 thoughts on “The Heart and Soul of Flamenco Guitar: Adam del Monte”

  1. With apologies to Mr. L.K. Coleman and his utterly misleading Spotlight Review, this album does not pretend to be anything but what it is. Flamenco is a traditional form of music born in Andalusian Spain and created from Indian, Arabic, Jewish, Romano-Iberian and Celto-Iberian elements. GYPSY PASSION and its successors in the Narada catalogue are examples of Nuevo Flamenco or “New Flamenco” which is a style of Fusion incorporating traditional Flamenco, Jazz, Rock, Classical, and other musics. Either Mr. Coleman doesn’t know about New Flamenco as a school of performance, or he’s a purist who just dislikes it.

    In either case, this album deserves five stars as a lively, engaging and pleasurable listening experience. And yes, “New Flamenco” has revitalized the traditional Andalusian form in modern-day Spain. GYPSY PASSION is absolutely worth your time.

  2. Nuevo Flamenco or New Flamenco is represented by Spanish artists such as Ketama, la Barberia del Sur, Pata Negra, Carles Benavent, Jorge Pardo, and other Spanish acts. The U.S. based artists that record label marketers have boldly categorized as Nuevo Flamenco are not Nuevo Flamenco. They use a little bit of Flamenco, mostly the light rumba form, which is the easiest form. In most cases, it is easy listening, smooth jazzy music, which has little to do with fusion or any form of Flamenco.

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