Nights of Fire!

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The soundtrack to a filmed stage performance by Spanish guitarist Roni Benise and choreographer Alex Magno (the full performance is available on DVD and was broadcast on PBS in 2005), Nights of Fire! presents itself as a potted history of Spanish music that moves from traditional Castilian flamenco through the various African-influenced styles of Latin America. Without Magno's razzle-dazzle choreography, however, Nights of Fire! is pretty thin stuff. Benise is an excellent flamenco guitarist, and those tracks that showcase that skill come off best. The rest of the album throws in a battery of percussionists and, at times, a full orchestra drowning out Benise's less-assured takes on bossa nova and salsa. More Las Vegas than Havana, Nights of Fire! is world music for the timid; stick to his more traditional flamenco records.

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