Various Artists

National Geographic: Destination Spain

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An album primarily of flamenco from the National Geographic series of Destination albums. While the focus is very clearly on pure flamenco, there is also a wealth of non-flamenco gypsy music to be had here, with modern interpretations. The flamenco is, of course, the highlight though. Gerardo Nuñez provides a couple of high quality guitar numbers, one in combination with multicultural duo Strunz and Farah. Vocal legend Chano Lobato provides an item as well. For a flamenco enthusiast, the pure flamenco here is going to be the clear highlight, with top-notch performances from vocalists and guitarists new and old, all at the very top of their game. The group Levantito turns in an outstanding performance with a female flamenco vocalist (only something of a rarity in practice, but rather uncommon in recordings). The various gypsy performers (in the non-flamenco vein, that is) turn in performances all of high degree, but of very diverse forms. Electronics take a place in some songs, while simple wood flutes hold together others. The contemporary tends to take precedence over the traditional in these pieces, but there's a definite reverence for the old forms as well. While there are notable omissions to be had here (Camaron & Tomatito, etc), such omissions are more than made up for by the inclusion of the progressive groups, as well as the choices made on the traditional fronts. This album ranks among the best flamenco compilations available due to its breadth. Pick it up alongside the Rough Guide installment devoted to flamenco, and the outstanding Cante Flamenco album for a trio of masterpieces in the genre.

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