Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mayte Martin for The New Flamenco

As a kid I had a book about world airline travel as it was in the late '40s-early '50s. "Breakfast in New York," it proclaimed excitedly, "dinner in Paris!" I was astounded. Today we can have breakfast in New York and be virtually anywhere at the same time, through the internet or vastly improved telecommunications networks. Or by listening to a CD.

Like this one today. Songwriter, singer, guitarist Mayte Martin could be sounding from your system right now, wherever you are. In fact she is sounding her music in my office as I write this. Her CD Al Cantar A Manuel (World Village 468087), that is. It's a collection of movingly wrought songs in an extended flamenco style, based on the texts of poems by Manuel Alcantara.

It is something to hear. Mayte's voice has that dramatic projecting of traditional flamenco, but the song forms are more involved in their structure. The nylon-stringed Spanish guitars of Ms. Martin and Jose Luis Monton are ever-present, lovely, subtle, sonorous. Then there are further instrumental accompaniments by violin, doublebass and sometimes percussion. It's very well put-together.

Here we have music that is as astounding in its own way as that book of the wonders of air travel I read through endlessly as a kid. Only it's palpable, fully here to enjoy many times over.

What can one say? Martin's voice is superb, the songs quite memorable, the accompaniments lovely. It's a record I will come back to many times, I am sure.

Now this is the sort of music to make me proud of being a citizen of the world. If some alien race came down from the sky right now and wanted to know what the hell that noise was coming from the box on my desk, I'd be happy to explain that it was one of the activities that make humans special. Would they get it? I think they might, if they listened a little.

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