Juan Carlos Quintero

Way Home

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In terms of sheer technique, all of the aforementioned acoustic guitarists, Liebert included, pale in the shadow of Colombian-born Juan Carlos Quintero, who re-emerged after a five-year label limbo with a vibrant tour of his homeland, appropriately titled The Way Home. Whereas 1992's popular Through the Winds found him compromising his potent improvisational chops and strong composing skills in a setting where the electronics dominated, this time the many Latin grooves emerge more organically, from his love for Latin folkloric music and the effortless interaction with his longtime ensemble featuring pianist Joe Rotondi, bassist Eddie Resto, and a host of all-star percussionists. He doesn't need any classical references and orchestral swells to create drama. Quintero can do the radio-friendly pop-flamenco thing as well as anyone, loping along casually on the tropical-flavored cruise "El Pueblo," but unlike Liebert, he challenges himself and Rotondi to jet off course and toss off a couple of bebop licks. More in character with Quintero's potential, however, are more polyrhythmic hybrid excursions like "Hermanos," which fuses fast and rumbling flamenco runs with folksy, twangy, country & western sensibilities, and the irrepressible, bongo-happy quartet piece, "Little Indians," which perfectly blends straight-ahead and pop flamenco flavors. Quintero also has a blast venturing into odd-metered, avant-garde territory on the jumpy closer "Porque Si."

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