José Luis Encinas

Travesura Chill

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When you think about it, the use of the term "nuevo flamenco" has become rather ironic. In Spain, non-traditional flamenco artists have been combining flamenco with rock, funk, Latin pop, and salsa for a long time; in the early '70s, some nuevo flamenco artists considered Carlos Santana an influence. And if non-traditional flamenco has been going on that long, it's hardly a brand new idea. Nonetheless, the heated debates between flamenco's purists and non-purists continue in Spain after all these days, and there is no way that an album like Travesura Chill is going to win the purists' stamp of approval. Taking a sleekly romantic, very pop-minded approach to flamenco, this CD will never be mistaken for the work of a traditionalist like Tomatito. But guitarist José Luis Encinas is quite good at what he does, and he brings a lot of charm and charisma to these instrumental performances. Complaining because Travesura Chill doesn't sound like a Tomatito or Paco de Lucía release is sort of like attacking Pat Metheny for not being a carbon copy of Barney Kessel or lambasting Bon Jovi for not emulating Slayer or Pantera; in other words, it's mixing apples and oranges. Encinas never claimed to be a purist, but his work is generally tasteful -- and Travesura Chill shouldn't be judged by the same standards one would apply to Tomatito or de Lucía. Modern, not traditional, flamenco standards must be used where Encinas is concerned, and when those standards are applied, one can enjoy Travesura Chill for what it is: a slick but tasteful and fairly creative example of commercialized flamenco-pop mood music.

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