The Guitar is an instrument born amid the blue vistas and sun washed stretches of sand of the Mediterranean, very far from an artist's studio in a seaside town in New Jersey. The guitar, which has roots in the soil of Andalucia, Spain is a flower whose petals have spread across the entire world for centuries. In this time it has succeeded as a most flexible and expressive instrument so well that is in danger of being too good. It seems as if there is nothing quite as ubiquitous nor conventional as the guitar.
Steve Calafati changes any current preconception about what the guitar is expected to do by combining his formidable artistry and compositional skills, with a moody, gorgeously realized return to its homeland, so to speak. In many ways Spain is the culture of guitars, and guitars, in any form, carry with them, that very Spanish provenance. It was only a matter of time, for a constantly evolving musician like Calafati to rediscover its heritage. In 1997, Steve began his study of flamenco with Master guitarist Enrique Vargas to improve his nylon string technique. "Little did I know the study of Flamenco would take over my entire musical life", Steve recalls. And so, into this endeavor went Calafati, a musician of the first order, who already knew the guitar quite well. Previous independent releases found Steve being showcased for his command of styles of guitar playing, as well as seeing the development of his overall musical concept. Calafati happens to be a tremendously gifted composer whose sense of balance and taste far outshines the narrow confines of the "instrumentalist/guitarist" genre. This man can write too! Steve's subsequent trips to the countries of the Mediterranean, where the sun, sea, architecture, food and life style influenced the development of his songs and sounds, constitute a pilgrimage of sorts. His new release, Mediterra, is the result.
Calafati brought to Flamenco a most impressive amount of skill and understanding. He grew up listening to and absorbing everything he had a chance to hear, including: Johnny Cash, Beatles, Herb Albert and Burt Bacharach and later in the growing interest in his guitar skills, began the time honored ritual of absorbing the music of his guitar gods, most notably Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page, Paco de Lucia, Pat Metheny and Manuel Barrueco. Music has led Calafati around the globe and Mediterra exhibits a truly global sensibility, a world music, from a world musician who actually took the time to see it. Calafati will be performing in the New York metropolitan area featuring a group of world class musicians adept at interpreting his multiflavored music.
Mediterra is a succinct foray into exotica, grounded by its strong rhythms (thanks to percussionist, Pete Corallo) and wonderful songwriting. Standout tracks on this organic, percussive voyage, include "For Arturo", which features an inventively evocative Calafati and includes contributions from Art Blakey alumnus, Danny Walsh on flute, Gato Barbieri bassist, Mario Rodriquez is featured on the solarized trip, "Road to Almeria", which is at turns bright and lovely with Calafati at his most lyrical, and then darkly eastern, his guitar painting mysteriously Arabesque scenes along the way. There is much more to enjoy in this varied and consistently remarkable cd. A most impressive recording, from a most impressive artist.