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Young & Rollins - Salsa Flamenca

Would Ricky Martin Please Take a Seat?
by: smokey

With the abundance of Spanish and/or Latin music filling every frequency of every radio, it has become easy to overlook the truly beautiful and awe-inspiring passion of this kind of music. With every play of Latin-influenced music on mainstream playlists, the listener hears the gusto and pride of the artist as they perform music of the genre belonging to their heritage. Unfortunately, the serial use of practically the same 303 backbeat behind nearly every song detracts a bit from what is considered to be an "authentic" experience.

Homogenization of mainstream music is such a wonderful thing....
A few short years ago, the Three Tenors hosted a benefit concert on public television. In a cavalcade of very talented performers from all walks of musicianship, perhaps one of the most impressive performances was delivered by the most unexpected. Three incredibly talented guitarists by the names of John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola and Paco DeLucia performed their "Mediterranean Suite" and everyone in the audience instantly was attune to the passion of Spanish guitar once again. No overused backbeats. No half-naked girls dancing in the back - skillful music written by the artists themselves. The audience was held at the edge of their seats as every trade of solos between the three guitarists would speak volumes of skill, passion and love for their art form.

Young and Rollins have put together an album which definitely warrants a listen on the title, Salsa Flamenca. Unlike the aforementioned artists of McLaughlin, DiMeola and DeLucia, Young and Rollins chose to assemble a complete band to complement their passion for the Spanish guitar. Because of this, the album concentrates less on the academic skills of blinding speed, and more on the creation of powerful music, rich with memoirs of culture. Feels ranging from salsa to reggae are spotted all over the recording with success at every level. "Last Year" moves well and sounds more like a recording from a Spanish dancehall than anything else. "Serendipity" is impressive in its cohesive feel and begs for a listen if but not for anything else but the percussionist Mojica.

Overall, what the album may suffer from is a feel of "bottledness." Perhaps I have different designs in mind for such an ambitious project as this, but the new-age mixing scheme seems to bottle the sound of the orchestra.

While the three guitarists of DiMeola, McLaughlin, and DeLucia benefit from a new-age style recording due to their albums platforming on academic skill of speed and dexterity, the extremely talented and cohesive orchestra heard on this album begs to be heard on a larger, fuller recording reminiscent of the outdoor fiesta-like mood that the album begins to pull the listener into.

Artist Young & Rollins
Album Salsa Flamenca
Label Baja/TSR Records
Date 08.15.00
Rating 3.6 out of 5.0