José Luis Encinas

Guitarra Romantica

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Narada Records adds to its growing stable of fine young flamenco guitar masters with the Spanish-born Jose Luis Encinas, who was drawn to the style simply by hearing it on street corners and in the barrios around him. He studied guitar with European masters and was awarded a scholarship to attend the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University. While labelmates Jesse Cook and Oscar Lopez enjoy the more polyrhythmic percussion textures and fancy techniques, Encinas delivers on his titular promise to be a little more subtle, seductive, and romantic. "Buscame" rolls gently along with Encinas' plucky melody gliding over an insistent rhythm guitar line as Mari Carmen Segura vocalizes in the background. "Huracan Rumba" indulges slightly in the rumba textures Cook is so well-known for, but in a quieter, more whimsical way. Less is more, in other words. "Sahara" begins with chanting voices and a shimmering ambience, which provide a lush background for a simple acoustic ballad. "La Herida Lenta" weaves that same sort of sweet sparseness into a trip-hop groove. Encinas probably won't be marketed in smooth jazz, but the chirpy "Cazador de Hielo" may remind some listeners of some of the best pop/rock-influenced work of Acoustic Alchemy. But Encinas can't stay out of the balmy romance realm for long -- "Las Cosas que Susurras" plays like a gentle theme behind a steamy romantic beach scene. Time will tell if he equals the success of his feistier labelmates, but no doubt he deserves a good shot.

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