Johannes Linstead

Tales of a Gypsy

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The goal of any musician who likens himself to a gypsy should be to transport listeners to many different geographic and emotional places -- and Johannes Linstead, whose exotic global fusion has unfortunately been lumped into the new age category for years -- once again delivers an exciting, inspiring, and sometimes even spontaneous ticket to the world. A multiple award winner at several prominent musical events in his native Canada, he draws on his European heritage and a lifetime of travel to bring authenticity to his blend of explosive and sweetly intimate melodies and a wide variety of moods and rhythms. Linstead, who lives part of the year near Toronto and other months in the Dominican Republic, seduces immediately with a cheerful bird soundscape on the intro to "Jungle Love," a lively romp punctuated by crisp, precise acoustic plucking and Nicholas Gunn's wistful pan pipes. Another prominent guest is violinist Vasyl Popadiouk, who adds a wild, dancing element to the exuberant "Noche de la Juerga," and engages in a folksy dialogue while adding harmonic mysticism to the the Django Reinhardt-esque "Bella Bella." Linstead complements his speedy fingerstyling (typified by the wild at heart "Caravan of Desire" with gentler expressions like the reflective "September Remembered." Somewhere in the middle is "Vagabond Stomp," whose sweetly flowing, midtempo guitar melody is backed by the wistful romance of Jordan Abraham's swaying accordion. The focus as always is on Linstead's lead and harmonic guitar lines, but his choice of exotic instruments is noteworthy: udu drum, doumbek, and an array of congas, bongos, and timbales. Overall, another triumphant trip around the world by a guy who never fails to stamp a fascinating passport.

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