Here’s a colorful and rather exotic venture into the land of flamenco and world guitar, something with which Nocy Karkour (just call him Nocy) is more than a little familiar, being an accomplished musician who’s performed with such great talent as Rod Stewart, Jon Anderson of the rock group Yes, Kenny G, and Larry Coryell. My focus here on Rise, this “best of Nocy” release, was mostly on his highly charged Latin pieces, Latin music being a weakness of mine. A couple of the more world/Eastern-influenced tunes like “Mirage Sensual” didn’t quite work for me, but they were in the minority, as this album shines a brilliant light on not only the artist’s writing and production skills but on his grasp of diversity, substance, and cultural flair.
There is plenty of room to salsa, meringue, and just carry on to the irresistible rhythms of this seductive music. After the opening track pays homage to Herb Albert’s classic “Rise,” the guitarist launches into a spectacular set of lightning licks and tantalizing melodies with nicely arranged hooks that are obviously designed to excite. For those of you unfamiliar with Nocy’s music, tunes like the appropriately titled “Flamenco,” “Ya Madame,” and “Gimme Some Latin” provide the lively and up-tempo side of the album, while the more moderately-paced “You Never Left Me Alone” and the soft, sensual “Spirits of Love” handle the mellower caresses. The album also provides some smooth jazz-accented moments, as in the cuts “My Nights in the Desert” and “Nights in Vegas,” which are delightful additions. Rise closes with “La Vida,” a fiery tune that offers the same high energy with which the project began.
As a whole, for those world and flamenco fans, this project is a well-conceived endeavor that should offer a bountiful dose of satisfaction.