Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Flamenco [2007]

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Flamenco is completely associated with Spain, the musical heart of the country, and this excellent compilation shows some of the younger -- and older -- performers for whom flamenco and its transcendent spirit of duende are a way of life. There's a wonderful rawness about the music, stripped to the bone of voice, guitar, and handclap percussion. There's also a wonderful variety here, from the moody, atmospheric guitar work of Gerardo Nuñez on "Sahara" to the very funky and full "Jose Monge Cruz," a tribute to the great El Camarón (who turns up on the following track) by Diego Carrasco. Ojos de Brujo bring modern production and a touch of hip-hop styling to flamenco without losing the spirit of the music, and young gun Estrella Morente (daughter of the great Enrique Morente, who also appears on the album) struts her stuff in a duet with Potito. As a compilation that showcases the versatility of the flamenco form, this is superb, with intelligent, thorough notes. The last couple of tracks bring in a Latin connection, toward Cuba with Son de la Frontera and, finally, a touch of Mexico from Las Corraleras de Lebrija.

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