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Juanito Pascual: New Flamenco Trio

Dan Bilawsky By

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While the trio may be the most overused grouping in jazz, it's not nearly as common in flamenco music. But that's not a problem for guitarist Juanito Pascual, a man skilled at tweaking established formulas.

This Minnesota-born flamenco phenom is well-versed in the traditions, techniques and history of flamenco music, but he isn't weighted down by all of them. This was clear from the beginning, when Pascual released a debut—Cosas En Comun (Self Produced, 2003)—which focused on original flamenco compositions. He broadened his outlook with Language Of The Heart (Self Produed, 2009), a flamenco-world-jazz hybrid which featured a large cast that included heavy-hitters like bassist John Patitucci and percussionist Jamey Haddad. Now, for his third release, he's scaling it back a bit, finding his way with bassist Brad Barrett and percussionist Tupac Mantilla by his side.

All of the music on New Flamenco Trio resides in a similar sonic space, but Pascual spins each song in a slightly different way. "Prelude 1," a rubato beauty with Andalusian allusions aplenty, sets the scene. "Costa Brava" coasts along, "Manana" manifests as a confluence of jazz and flamenco ideals, and the lone cover on the album—"My Guitar Gently Weeps"—is born anew, resurfaced to fit in alongside Pascual's originals. By the time the album reaches its midpoint—the understated, yet scintillating "Mamoni"—Pascual's modus operandi has been clearly established; it's one that mixes grace and virtuosity in equal parts.

The second half of the album contains a bulería that the guitarist dedicated to his wife ("Buleria Para Kiko"), a funky-and-worldly concoction that blends Spanish sounds with Indian and Baltic spices ("Chicago Times (Funkmenco)"), a brief-and-hazy prelude that leads up to that serving of global stew, and a gentle send-off ("Tiferet (Tema Por Tangos)).

With New Flamenco Trio, Pascual manages to uphold and extend the traditions of flamenco music, creating something distinctive in the process.

Track Listing: Prelude 1 (Tarantas); Costa Brava; Manana; While My GUitar Gently Weeps; Mamoni (Rumba); Buleria Para Kiko; Prelude 2 - The Fog Rolls In; Chicago Times (Funkmenco); Tiferet (Tema Por Tangos).

Personnel: Juanito Pascual: guitars, palmas; Tupac Mantilla: hand percussion, body percussion, vocal percussion; Brad Barrett: acoustic bass.

Title: New Flamenco Trio | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced

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