Juan Jose Carranza


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Juan Carranza's voice is not his best asset. It has a nasal tone and sounds lightly piercing and thin, as it lacks rich harmonics. But the man can sing in tune and convincingly negotiate ornamented melodies. In fact, his voice has considerably improved since the rare vocal songs found on his previous albums -- and luckily too, since nine of the ten tracks on Mareas feature his singing. Carranza's songs have charm, appeal, and the overemphasized feelings one expects from nuevo flamenco music. His singing pushes aside his stellar guitar playing, which is truly a shame, and his songwriting is somewhat more conventional than the instrumental tunes featured on his first two CDs. His accompanying group has been completely revamped and now consists of a bassist (Sylvain Lafrance) and three percussionists adding Spanish, Latin, and North African colors. The absence of flutist Fran├žois Richard further tones down the Latin jazz mood woven into Playa Gitana. On the other hand, the songs are spirited, lively, full of sun and sand. Carranza delivers a more than honest performance, especially in "Mareas," "Persiguiendo la Luna," and "Viento Embrujado." If his songs bear a less distinctive signature than his instrumentals, they will nonetheless appeal to a wider audience.

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