This is an album of traditional flamenco guitar music that I recorded around 1980-1982. I would have been in my early 20's back then and consider myself fortunate that - for whatever reason - I had the foresight to record myself playing these solos. The reason being, that I don't play straight-forward flamenco music any more, but rather a classical, finger style, flamenco fusion. They were "mastered", as it were on simple cassette tape and they hold a certain charm for me. As I recall, my mother had received some reward points on her Visa card and offered to get me a record-able karaoke machine. I believe I still have it somewhere. If my memory serves me correctly, some of these tracks were recorded on that machine. If you can look past the quality issue, they are quite impressive - especially to me - because somewhere deep down, I knew I should record this music. It would have been lost if I hadn't. The older I get, I realize that there are "windows of opportunity", especially in creative matters, that allow us to express ourselves. The problem comes when we don't act on them and the window closes, which it inevitably does. Although, I like to listen to them once in a while, I don't play this music anymore, and my desires have shifted a bit into the flamenco finger style area. Concerning the quality, many years ago, I came across some very old recordings from the great maestro Andres Segovia. I believe they were from the 1920's. They were truly awful recordings - quality wise that is - but they offered a glimpse into what lie ahead for the great one. In that respect, they were truly priceless.
I am mostly a jazz harpist now, and often I get asked how long I have been playing the harp. I was asked that just a few days ago. It is a difficult question for me to answer and the reason lies in my flamenco and classical training. There is no better training on God's green earth for right hand technique, then flamenco guitar training coupled with classical and finger style methods. I have extreme right hand dominance as a result of years of flamenco training. Also, there is no better strength training for the right hand than the raucous, driven melodies of gypsy guitar music. So, to answer the question of "how long have you played the harp?", I will refer to the motion picture "The Karate Kid". As you may recall, Mr. Miyagi is training his young protege, Daniel Larusso about the martial arts. But, in the beginning, Miyagi's training involves only mundane tasks such as painting the fence and waxing the car. Larusso doesn't understand that the motions required in these simple tasks are precisely the ones he will need to perform martial arts. But the old master knows. This, it seems to me, is a fine corollary to my life and musical training. Decades of flamenco training - while rewarding in themselves - were leading to my true love, which is the jazz harp. I couldn't have planned it better, had I tried. Some higher power was involved way back then, and still is.
Personally, I believe that the classical and flamenco guitar are far harder to play than the harp. It's not even close, in my mind. The guitar is a fingered, fretted instrument - with the emphasis on fretted. Every guitarist in the world knows about the infernal buzzing sound that results when his left hand isn't in the precise spot it should be at the precise time. The best players in the world struggle with this. I have heard it, time and again, even on Segovia's recordings - especially his early recordings.
The cover art is used with the kind permission of Renata Domagalska. Renata is a uniquely talented artist from Poland. As soon as I saw her paintings, I was struck with her intensity and passion. Her brushstrokes are unlike any I have seen. They are filled with motion, color and life. Her specialties lie in the areas of women's portraits, dancers, city life and nudes. She loves to paint the human form, especially in motion. She is a young and vibrant artist. I contacted her some time ago - a year perhaps - to obtain permission to use her painting entitled "In The Rhythm Of Flamenco Dance". She graciously agreed and waited patiently.
I then began the process of digitizing these old analog recordings. Not a hard task, given the right software, but, as sometimes happens, I was having second thoughts. So I put the idea aside awhile - a very long while as it turned out. Then, for another project, I obtained Sony's Vegas Movie Studio software. I've always liked Sony products and the Vegas Movie Studio software is no exception. You pay more for Sony products but they seem to be engineered better than their competitors. As it turned out, the Vegas software has some sophisticated audio tools and I ran some of the tracks through them. I believe Spanish Romance and The Kill were two where I applied the Sony restoration tools. All tracks were first put into Audacity to double the sound, boost the bass and amplify it. Simple reverb was added on the other tracks with Acoustica software.
As I mentioned, the songs here are from very old recordings. I am always aware that my music will outlive me and I only put music online when I am completely happy with it. Sure, there are some improvements that could have been made, but overall, I am pleased with them at that moment in my life. Given enough time, the pyramids will someday be flattened, the Roman Colosseum will one day turn to dust, but light and sound will remain. Maybe I'm naive, but this seems awesome to me. I want my music to be part of that which remains.
I contacted Renata when I completed the restoration and she agreed a second time. Her beautiful artwork can be found on the link on this page.
A couple final notes....Spanish Romance is a very old, traditional Spanish serenade in the public domain. The other tracks are my renditions and arrangements of traditional Spanish flamenco music. Malaguena means "Lady from Malaga" and is the classical flamenco version.
All these recordings are dedicated to Megan and Rachelle Sartori - my daughters - who are always after me to record and release more guitar music. These songs were recorded when they were just a gleam in their daddy's eyes.