Sergio Lara

Con la Lluvia

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No doubt Ottmar Liebert -- whose success with Nouveau Flamenco way back when helped launch Lara's old label, Higher Octave Music, to national prominence -- will continue to be the first name folks think of when they think of modern pop-flamenco. But this sharply played, powerfully rhythmic, and beautifully melodic collection, Lara's first since earning a Latin Grammy nomination for World Jazz as part of Lara & Reyes, should give Liebert's extensive catalog a run for its money. Fans of Sergio Lara and Joe Reyes who know of Lara only as a guitarist are also treated to his work on the ocarinas, guitar synth, acoustic and electric mandolins, ukulele, palmas, and cajon -- all of which add an authentic Latin texture to the mix. The lighthearted, loping "Short Visit" is a catchy entry into an increasingly exotic experience that continues with the speedily played, percussion-intense "Makada" and the playful hum-along "Oyeme." On "La Llorona," Lara tones down for a deeper, introspective reflection that showcases the beauty of his higher-tone strings weaved over the mandolin. From there, he goes from balmy to quirky and witty, always finding new ways to weave his various strings into fascinating melody-harmony arrangements. While Lara has done solo projects before, his work with the duo has often made it difficult to see his talent as a virtual one-man band. While fans surely hope his time with Reyes continues, this exciting departure ranks as one of the best in this genre in recent memory.

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