Desnudas de palabras (bare of words) is a wonderful tribute to women. Madrid guitarist Pablo Romero Luis admires the courage of women in their struggle to change society in favor of equality. It is also an instrumental ode to song. The album recovers a 19th century concept of songs without words.
Although many Spanish guitarists reviewed at World Music Central come straight from the flamenco world, Pablo Romero Luis has classical musical training and uses the venerable Spanish classical guitar.
Desnudas de palabras was successfully crowdfunded and incorporates classical music, flamenco, traditional music, Brazilian bossa nova influences and jazz. It is a masterful display of the versatility of the guitar, interacting with musicians from various musical traditions.
“This project has been possible after the conviction that the best way to find oneself and connect with others is sincerity,” says Pablo. “This has involved a difficult personal evolution and I have to recognize that the tenacity and perseverance of these women has been an abundant source of motivation, which is why I think that making their struggle a recurring theme is a necessary contribution so that fewer and fewer women feel naked, bare of words.”
Juan José Robles – “Tiempo de espera” (self-release, 2016)
Juan José Robles is a Spanish composer and multi-instrumentalist who specializes in Spanish string instruments. He hails from Alhama de Murcia, a town in southeastern Spain, in a region called Murcia. While other Spanish regions export a considerable amount of music, there’s relatively little production coming out of Murcia and specifically the Alhama area.
“Tiempo de espera” is Roble’s first solo album and features a mix of original contemporary folk music pieces composed by Juan José Robles and traditional tunes re-arranged by Robles. His main inspiration is the folk music of his region, although he also incorporates elements from flamenco and other traditions.
For guitar and string players interested in less common Spanish string instruments, “Tiempo de espera” will be a great opportunity to “discover” some of them. On “Tiempo de espera”, Robles uses the familiar mandolin and Spanish guitar, but he also uses the less frequent bandurria, a 12-string lute that’s normally used to accompany other instruments although Robles uses it as a solo instrument. Another instrument used by Robles is the guitarro, a small guitar that is normally used to accompany Murcian cuadrillas (traditional folk groups). Robles also elevates this instrument to soloist status. And then there’s also the octavilla, another small guitar with 12 strings that has a great potential as a solo instrument.
Juan José Robles enriches his instrumentals and songs with instruments from other regions and traditions, such as the pandero cuadrado (square frame drum from western Spain), flamenco palmas (handclap percussion), flamenco guitar, flamenco cajón, zanfona (hurdy gurdy), kalimba and electric bass.
The álbum lineup includes Juan José Robles on mandolin, Spanish guitar, laúd (Spanish lute), octavilla, bandurria and guitarro; Óscar Esteban on panderetas (tambourines); Pablo Orenes on acoustic and electric bass; Constantino López on acoustic guitar and mandola; Jero Galián on Spanish guitar; Pepe Ludeña on fiddle; José Antonio Aarnoutse on flamenco guitar; Dani Valera on palmas; Carlos Beceiro on zanfona; Roberto Cubero on mandolin; Carmen María Martínez Salazar and Jaime Lafuente vocals.
Juan José Robles has played with a wide range of traditional groups, contemporary folk music bands and singer-songwriters, including Malvariche, Mujeres con Raíz, Villa de Alhama, Orquesta Camerata Aguilar, Manuel Luna’s cuadrilla Maquilera, La banda del Pepo, and la Ronda de Motilleja.
“Tiempo de espera” was worth the wait. It’s a beautifully-crafted album rooted in Murcian tradition by the talented Juan José Robles.