& Ritmo Flamenco,
Misterio is one of the more beautiful CDs I've heard in a while. Roger Scannura and his band, Ritmo Flamenco, have released a short, yet sweet, winner with this album. Scannura, a flamenco guitarist, displays his talent in the Nuevo flamenco movement. While this genre might not appeal to flamenco purists, as it incorporates AfroCuban rhythms as well as some Gypsy influences, it will definitely appeal to a wide audience.
Scannura's experience with the 800-year-old tradition of flamenco goes back two decades and includes a three year stint "...living and studying with the Gypsies of southern Spain," according to promotional materials. It was during this time that he learned the "compas," which are a core set of 60 different rhythms forming the base of this style of music. I should probably mention that Scannura is originally from the island of Malta but is now a Canadian resident.
Ritmo Flamenco consists of several talented musicians and dancers. Scannura is joined by his wife, Valerie, who not only dances, but also provides backing vocals and palmas (clapping). Kevin "Quevedo" Smith takes care of percussion while Laurence Stevenson plays fiddle, mandolin and synthesizer. Alvaro Oyarce plays guitar, palmas and sings as well.
Something that I found interesting from the promotional material was that the flamenco dancer is considered as much of a musician as the rest of the band. It is the dancer who is in charge. Using their feet, the dancers dictate what the guitarist is to do. I did not know that!
If I have any issue with Misterio it would have to do with the CD's length. There are eight selections that translate to less than 33 minutes of music. Perhaps this CD is only a teaser to get you to check out Scannura's previous three CDs: Ritmo Flamenco (more traditional flamenco), Saracen (jazz based) and Medina (Moorish influence).
Misterio is a must-have CD of those who enjoy world music in general and Nuevo flamenco in particular. The playing style is superb, the vocals are engaging and the rhythm is wonderful. I would not even be surprised to find out that most flamenco purists would find something on this CD to enjoy. Despite the short playing time, I feel this CD is worth checking out.
[ by Wil Owen ]
Rambles: 25 May 2002
By: Ben Ohmart
Aug 19, 2001
Artist: Roger Scannura & Ritmo Flamenco
If you're white and dumb like me, you probably know nothing of the Rumba Flamenca which used to be performed at the end of every Flamenco show. It's the most popular of all the 'palos,' with Roger Scannura finding himself as master of the Nuevo Flamenco movement. Nuevo Flamenco is a combination of 'the passionate gypsy roots of rumba with Afrocuban rhythms.' More than that, it's highly erotic, exotic, either in sugar formula (the high-paced 'Sharia') or diet (the wailing ballad of 'Val Paraeso' is a good example).
The quartet of players:
Roger Scannura - flamenco guitar
Valerie Scannura - vocals, palmas
Kevin (Quevedo) Smith - percussion
Laurence Stevenson - fiddle, mandolin, keyboard
Alvaro Oyarce - vocals, guitar, palmas
The cd may be a short 33 minutes, but time flies when you're flying on the wings of the instrumental 'Val Paraeso,' a delightfully crisp new age kind of Latin, with Roger on lead, the occasional sound effect (birds, ocean) spraying through, joined in by mandolin and vague rhythm. A worldly court of pristine pleasantness.
Yes, speaking of World music, quite a bit of other continents get thrown into Roger's most original mix. 'No Puede' is one such violin-laden creature, with a Mexican style, a gentlemanly European quality, and melodic Spanish cadence, complete with duel-sex harmony breaking in upon the relaxation.
There is magic in store for everyone who wants a taste of the OTHER Latin, the kind that is more authentic, the sort that isn't burning up the charts, but that Is setting fire to everyone it comes in contact with.