Contemporary Flamenco

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Sydney Morning Herald (30/8/2007) – John Shand

Live Review – Arrebato Ensemble at the Vanguard on 28 August 2007 – by John Shand:

Cling to any tradition too tightly and you squeeze the life from it. Traditions become traditions because of their adaptability to the changing needs of successive generations. In fact the best way to ensure one survives is by letting it evolve. Purists tend to be people with bad cricks in the neck from looking backwards.

Flamenco, jazz and classical music all have rich traditions and all have their crick-in-the-neck brigades. Flamenco, like tango, is evolving particularly effectively while retaining an essence, an essence that most surely defines Arrebato, even as the music interweaves strands of jazz, classical, North African and even country music. It can be defined technically, via the adherence to rhythmic cycles (compas) and modes and it can be defined by that unmistakable mood that I have previously described as a dramatic, sexually charged and somewhat haughty sadness.

Sydney’s Greg Alfonzetti leads Arrebato by example, with some scintillating flamenco guitar playing and his compositions generally incorporate the ‘foreign’ elements without jarring. In bassist Dave Ellis, saxophonist Andrew Poniris, percussionist Lloyd G and especially multi-instrumentalist Damian de Boos-Smith (cello, guitar, mandolin, oud, percussion) he has found creative and sympathetic collaborators and improvisers…….

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