Saturday, 11 February 2012

Review: Rodrigo Y Gabriela And C.U.B.A.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela And C.U.B.A. – Area 52 (Rubyworks)
Whenever our paths have crossed, either at a festival or on record, I’ve always enjoyed the company of Rodrigo Y Gabriela. Up close is best, where they project an intimacy which is both charming and quite genuine, and you also get to see what fine musicians they are, though there’s plenty of evidence to heard on both their studio albums and abundant live recordings. It should also be said that they’ve managed to popularize a form of music that fuses flamenco and rock – and I don’t get to type that every day.

Conscious that both they and their audience were in need of a change of pace, for “Area 52” they recorded in Havana with a first-rate, 13 piece, Cuban orchestra, together with various guest musicians, including Anoushka Shankar on sitar, Cult drummer John Tempesta and jazz bass player Carles Benavent (Chick Corea, Miles Davis). Apple man Peter Asher produces and 11 times Latin Grammy winner Rafa Sardina provides the mix.

There’s a certain familiarity with the material as the Mexican duo have previously recorded all nine tracks for various albums and projects, though it all sounds fresh and new with pithy brass and swinging rhythms. Whether this is a one-off experiment or a completely new direction, I guess we’ll have to wait and see, though I’m looking forward to seeing them reproduce it live on stage later in the month. I’ll reserve judgment ‘til then, though from what I’ve heard so far, expectations are set reasonably high.
Rob F.

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