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Guitarist melds flamenco, cumbia, jazz

Los Musicos
Los Musicos
By Juan Carlos Quintero

Moondo Records; Pasadena, Calif.: 2001

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This review first appeared in the November 18, 2001 edition of the American Reporter.

Many have tried to find that hidden and perhaps mythical groove between classical and jazz. This quest seeks that musical bridge combining the sense of discovery that comes from improvised solos with the timelessness of grand themes.

Little of what has been tried has worked, and what has worked has fallen short of its creators' ambition for greatness.

Coming closer than almost anyone else to date (and that statement is couched only because of all the artists one must necessarily not be aware of) is Juan Carlos Quintero. His new album, "Los Musicos," is as seamless a blending of classical and jazz as has yet been heard. Maybe this isn't Beethoven meets Miles, but it's not so far off, either – it's certainly a nice combination of flamenco and Latin jazz that manages to meet the standards of both schools.

If heavily steeped in Spanish flamenco, Quintero is also deeply influenced by his family's Colombian roots – there's a strong flavor of the cumbia here as well. The multi-layered polyrhythms show the African influences on cumbia.

At the same time as the flamenco and cumbia express the Middle-Eastern and African roots of their schools, Quintero also writes songs with this timeless quality of, say, Ferdinand Sor or Antonio Vivaldi.

Then there's this: Quintero is quite simply one of the top guitarists playing on the planet today. Pick your style, and odds are Quintero can play it, and play it well. Just getting to hear him play is a joy in itself – getting to hear him play such a wonderful blend of music is a treat not to be missed.