Juan Martín Solo,
review from Maverick, Summer 2009
Regarded as one of the best guitarists in the world, Juan Martín has just released this album of self-penned compositions, which allows him to show off his amazing talent on the acoustic guitar. On tracks such as the gorgeous Alegria de Pablo you are held spellbound as you marvel at the speed of his fingers over the strings and at his skillful fretwork. The same can be heard on the cascading guitar sounds on the flowing Con Rumba al Carnival.
Juan Martín is undoubtedly a master guitarist, but a few of the tracks on the completely instrumental album of flamenco guitar music are a bit heavy, unless of course you are a true fan.
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Review by Graham Wade in Classical Guitar Magazine,
Summer 2009 (click here)
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
4 February 2009
Review by Neil Sowerby, Manchester Evening News
It's even snowing
in Andalucia, fact, Juan Martin tells us before speculating if his show
had conveyed the traditional Southern Spanish warmth.
It had - with more than a dash of Moorish spice, flamenco with a sheen
but still with its roots showing.
Close your eyes, forget your itchy layers, this was an orange blossom
and fountains, flaying sun and soothing shade kind of show.
In truth, you get a much-travelled, much-honed ensemble showcase of
pure flamenco styles and crossovers, inch perfectly choreographed for
the concert hall.
Yet from the moment guitarist sidekick Manolo Jimenez unleashed his
keening ‘cante jondo’ vocals it sent shivers through you
beyond the wintry variety. Chuck in the palmas (rhythmic claps) and
zapateado (foot stamping) and there is an intense background surge to
Martin’s legendary guitar playing is mesmerising. He establishes
his total command with an opening solo that is a masterclass in endlessly
shifting, soft and harsh rhythm and timbre. But often he will subsume
himself to the democratic needs of the ensemble.
A dandyish crimson scarf is slung round his neck like a slash of blood.
This colour resonates too in the frillfest that is female dancer Raquel
de Luna’s costume, matching the brilliance of her footwork, particularly
in an extended sevillana.
If she plays the cocky little flirt ripping into an astonishing gypsy
knees-up, then partner Salvador Moreno is almost a hen party tease.
His nickname is El Tigre and he soon shows his true stripes as a conquistador
of the female heart. A dance from far removed Galicia in Northern Spain
is just the appetiser for a tapas feast of intricate stepping and mugginging
to the gallery.
So far, so authentic, but Martin is soon steering the show towards Spain’s
eight centuries of Moorish rule, telling us from his house near Malaga
he can see the Riff mountains of Morocco. The ensemble is completed
by a woodwind and percussion duo who weave the Arabic spells of Martin’s
Sephardic song, From Damascus to Cordoba.
Just a bit fusion travelogue for me. I preferred them after the break
updating one of the Picasso Portraits Martin was commissioned to compose
for the great artist’s 90th birthday in 1971. ‘‘Just
create a musical version of some of the paintings, that simple,’’
recalled Martin. ‘‘There is a difference between arty and
The piece we heard was a vivid daub of chamber music that reconciled
its eclecticism with a deeply Spanish sensuality.
That probably sums Martin up. Like Picasso, he is rooted in his native
Spain, blessed with unmatchable technique, but cannot stand still. A
Wedding, Playhouse, Liverpool
of Oxford Playhouse Concert,
Originales reviewed by Steve Caseman, Rock n Reel World, March 2007
showcase compilation of material by acclaimed Spanish guitarist Juan
Martín, Rumbas Originales has a somewhat self-explanatory title
and includes 16 rumba-style compositions from the pen of Martín
Accompanied throughout by percussion and bass, and occasional vocals,
the real centrepiece is Martín's dazzling and frenetic fretwork,
as he performs with an alacrity and dexterity that renders what he does
a joy to hear. Martín conjures a beautiful, moody atmosphere
with Cuban and Arabic motifs emerging amidst the sultry musical vistas.
There are some evocative moments, particularly in the ambitious and
express train delivery of 'Gitana Latina' and on the vibrant 'Flight",
while the gently brooding 'Amante' and the closing live cut 'Por Rumba
Los Dos' with its classical flamenco-style rolling, rhythmic peaks demonstrate
well Martín's mastery of the idiom. Save for a couple of ill-placed
numbers on which a cheesy-sounding keyboard intrudes ('Arlequin' and
'El Deseo Atrapado Por La Cola'), Rumbas Originales is a formidable
introduction to the work of this master guitarist.
Erik Neuteboom, Prog Archives.
4th August 2006
Martin is a flamenco player who wanted to broaden his musical horizon,
just like PACO DE LUCIA did by founding a trio with JOHN MACLAUGHIN
and AL DIMEOLA in the early Eighties. Juan moved to England, wrote books
about the flamenco guitar technique and played together with rock musicians.
This album is one of his many musical projects and in my opinion his
best and a great one to discover for the visitors and reviewers of this
site. On this album Juan Martin has invited an impressive list of guest
musicians: drummer IAN MOSLEY (TRACE/MARILLION), bass player JOHN GUSTAFSON
(QUATERMASS/ROXY MUSIC), SIMON PHILLIPS (one of the best session drummers)
and keyboardist TONY HYMAS (both on the splendid JEFF BECK albums “Wired”
and “There and back”). The result is an exciting meeting
between the world of the flamenco guitar and the progressive rock, this
is one of my favorite LP’s and recently released as a digitally
remastered CD version. 1) “Harlequin” First soaring keyboards
from Tony Hymas and then exciting interplay between the quick flamenco
guitar runs and a dynamic rhythm-section (Phillips/Gustafson), embellished
by the typical flamenco handclapping. 2) “Desire caught by the
tail” This is a sensitive duet from the flamenco guitar and the
synthesizer (Memorymoog). Halfway there is a sensational break featuring
sweeping drums, spectacular synthesizer sounds and rattling castannettes
followed by a mid-tempo with splendid runs on the guitar and a fine
colouring by the keyboards. 3) “Three musicians” We can
enjoy a swinging and catchy rhythm with a funky bass by John G. Perry,
powerful drums from Ian Mosley and exciting rasgueado play (quick downward
strokes from the nails on the guitar strings). 4) “Sleeping girl”
This piece is in the vein of the famous romantic guitar piece “Romance
d’amor” delivering a sensitive duet from a twanging acoustic
guitar and mellow sparkling piano, WONDERFUL! 5) “Self portrait”
The start is like “Spanish caravan” from The Doors: a bit
sultry flamenco guitar, culminating in spectacular and propulsive interplay
between the flamenco guitar, rhythm-section (Mosley/Perry) and keyboards,
it sounds pleasantly bombastic. 6) “The aficionado” An exciting
blend of typcial flamenco elements (based a ‘bulerias’,
one of the more complex flamenco rhythms) and the technical sound of
the progrock: handclapping and quick flamenco runs blended with a funky
bass (Gustafson) and pitchbend-driven Moog flights from Hymas, VERY
SPECTACULAR! 7) “Girls of Algiers” This one is based on
a ‘zambra mora’, the most Arabian-influenced flamenco rhythms.
First swelling keyboards, drums and bass, then great interplay between
the flamenco guitar, keyboards and rhytm-section, its sounds very dynamic.
The tension between the spectacular Moog flights from Hymas and the
quick runs on the flamenco guitar delivers a captivating climate, in
the end there is a magnificent duel, THIS IS PERHAPS THE FINEST MOMENT
ON THIS ALBUM! 8) “Weeping woman” Here is the only solo
guitar track from Juan Martin, it introduces you to the wonderful art
of the flamenco guitar and sounds very varied with halfway a great build-up,
very moving. 9) “The picador” The ‘malaguena’
is perhaps the most famous flamenco rhythm, you will recognize it for
sure! It is a cheerful climate with catchy and powerful interplay from
the flamenco guitar, rhythm-section and keyboards featuring sensational
Moog runs. Halfway the music slows down and then goes faster and faster
until an ebullient atmosphere, what a ‘grand finale’! THIS
ALBUM IS NOT JUST ANOTHER SMOOTH RUMBA-DRENCHED BLEND OF FLAMENCO AND
ROCK BUT AN EXCELLENT MEETING OF THE FLAMENCO GUITAR AND THE PROGRESSIVE
ROCK, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!
April 2004 click
Michael Church, The Independent on Sunday May 2nd 2004
There have been
times when Juan Martin has strayed from his true path - crossing over
meretriciously - but this CD is a triumphant return to his roots. Recorded
live on his UK tour last autumn, it's a luxurious 100 minutes of the
real stuff, with his guitarism supported by a cleverly chosen group
of soloists. Nuria Martin's sweet-throaty tone nicely complements Chato
Velez's sound, which runs the flamenco gamut in grand style; the dancing
of Salvador Moreno ("El tigre") may not be visible
but you sense it in the music. A gracefully accomplished album.
Michael Church The Independent November 4th 2003 (given a 5 STAR rating)
at the Barbican, guitarist Juan Martín reminded us of the power
and the beauty of flamenco pure and simple. No meretricious stage tricks,
not a trace of hammering, just one long enthralling sequence of instrumental
solos, songs and dances by his brilliant little troupe. I had not heard
male singer Chato Velez before, but I hope to soon again.
Nicholas, The Age, Melbourne, Australia, December 2003
played host to leading international guitarists twice last week. Early
on, American Ralph Towner was in town as part of his first Australian
solo tour. Then, last Thursday, Spanish guitarist Juan Martin filled
the smaller Beckett Theatre in the first of two Melbourne concerts.
Although the two guitarists hail from different musical worlds –
jazz and flamenco – hearing them almost back-to-back did draw
Towner, Juan Martin was performing solo here but is also an experienced
ensemble musician. He has toured and recorded as a member of several
groups and collaborated with major artists in various fields (including
jazz names such as Herbie Hancock and Mark Isham). Like Towner too,
Martin is such a natural player that there is no need for flashy histrionics.
His art may be technically awe-inspiring, but technique is never an
end in itself. And both players have developed an approach to the guitar
that clearly refers to a particular musical tradition, while also moving
beyond it to reflect a distinct personal style.
Martin plays a Soléa por Buleria, it breathes with the fierce
energy of pure flamenco. And yet it is, like all the pieces in his repertoire,
an original composition (in this case Esencia) filled with melodic and
rhythmic combinations that are Martins own contribution to the art form.
The dramatic flourishes so integral to flamenco are part of Martin’s
acoustic armoury, but he also used them judiciously, to intersect rather
than interrupt the fluid movement of his phrases. He also tends to articulate
them slightly so that they are part flourish, part rippling trill.
Thursdays concert Martin introduced each piece with a brief but evocative
word portrait that described its rhythmic and regional origins. He then
effortlessly transformed the portrait into music, evoking not just the
images of prickly pears and mountainous ravines but the sounds of, lightning
fast footwork, stuttering castanets and the proud exhortations of the
flamenco cantaor (singer).
such as De Damasco a Cordoba strongly reflected the Moorish roots of
flamenco, while others (Vuelo: Airto y Juan) were imbued with vibrant
rhythmic references to Latin America. As an encore, Martin performed
la Feria (The Fair), its vigorous, percussive slapping and emphatic
flourished making it a celebratory conclusion to a memorable performance.
Lea Wee, The Straits Times, Singapore, November 30th 2002
Martin once said that the flamenco guitar is best heard on its own.
And the Spanish virtuoso proved this to the crowd at the Victoria Concert
Hall. Perched on a stool with his guitar and giving short introductions
before each piece he took the audience on a musical journey with self-composed
pieces that started with a haunting taranta and ended with a nostalgic
rumba. In between was a varitable emotional rollercoaster made up of
the diverse styles of flamenco, from the joyful alegrias, jazzy bulerias
and festive rumbato, to the quieter and darker rondena.
was also magic which evoked images of Andalucia in Southern Spain, the
birthplace of flamenco and the musician himself. Whiffs of the Moors’
influence on flamenco wafted in with the oriental-like De Damasco A
Cordoba, which turned out surprisingly well without the accompaniment
of the oud, the Arabic lute, which was featured on his album version.
The influence of Latin America on flamenco was also introduced in pieces
such as Campanitas de Plate from his latest album Latino Camino.
Zapateado, Tacanoes, turned in another surprise by yielding a lively
and melodic effect on the solo guitar. Although flamenco playing is
probably best enjoyed in a more intimate setting, Martins playing lacked
neither intensity nor emotion. He dazzled both with the complex rhythms
and rumbas, and the clarity of the simpler phrases. His right hand was
especially skillful in controlling the rhythmic mood, moving with amazing
ease from strumming, slapping, plucking of damping the strings on the
fingerboard, to drumming the guitar table, slapping it with his palm
or tapping it with his finger nails.
the end of 12 pieces the audience was so fired up that they would not
let him go until hr obliged with two more encores. And why not? After
all, he proved that the guitarra does not need to share the stage with
the dance or the song, the other two forms of the flamenco, in order
Therese Wassily Saba
Classical Guitar Magazine April 2010
Unusually this was a pre-concert concert at Wigmore Hall which attracted a full audience. The flamenco guitarist Juan Martín played a range of solos including a zapateado Taconeos which ended with an impressively fast rasguedo, and a thought-provoking taranta called Lamento Minero. The siguiriya, Triana, evoking the old gypsy quarter of Seville, had an almost rock music base line; it was still very much siguiriya, but very different from the standard one usually hears. The falsetas in his farruca were particularly attractive and the rhythm very strongly presented. The alegrías de Cadiz, La Chispa, was played high up the neck of the guitar and had a jolly spirit. He ended with two of his most popular pieces, the zambra mora called Evocacíon and his Rumba Nostalgica.
All in all it was a very pleasing recital. Juan Martín introduced each piece with a charming anecdote and for those who weren't fans already, I'm sure he won them over both to his playing and to flamenco music.
The Nash Ensemble's Artistic Director Amelia Freedman invited Juan Martin to play his solo recital to establish the background and mood for the Nash Ensemble's concert which would be following that evening: she wanted the audience to hear the music that was such a source of inspiration for Manuel de Falla.
Juan Martín kept a second guitar on a stand alongside him throughout the concert which he never used. When I asked him about it he said it was a slightly louder guitar which he had there in case the acoustic of the hall was not responsive enough for his favourite guitar. Of course he soon realised that, even with a very full hall, he could be heard loud and clear right at the back of the hall.
del Mar, EFE
El guitarrista Juan Martín seduce Indonesia con su arte flamenco.
10 October 2006
Mar Centenera Yakarta,
30 mar (EFE).- Con reminiscencias moriscas y la madre de todas las guitarras,
la flamenca, el malagueño Juan Martín sedujo a los indonesios.
"Para mí, la guitarra original es la flamenca, antes que
la clásica, antes que el jazz. Es la madre de todas las guitarras
y mi responsabilidad, como representante de esta gran tradición,
es comunicarla con pureza", dejó claro Martín a EFE
Con las cosas claras, después de más de treinta años
en los escenarios y dieciocho discos, el artista se enfrentó
tan sólo con su guitarra a un aforo lleno con 'Linares', una
"Me gusta empezar con una taranta, porque espiritualmente me siento
muy cerca de los mineros, parece que uno está debajo de tierra",
explicó después de la actuación, organizada por
el Instituto Cervantes y la Embajada de España en Yakarta anoche.
Continuó con un zapateado seguido de 'Triana', una seguiriya
muy lenta, de gran hondura, interpretada con una gran tensión
Su expresión serena no reflejó en ningún momento
el nerviosismo con el que había empezado.
"Será porque soy buen actor, podría ganar un Oscar
de Hollywood", diría después entre risas.
Tras las primeras piezas, el auditorio quedó sumido en un intenso
silencio, tan sólo interrumpido por la cálida voz de Martín
para introducir cada palo elegido en un perfecto inglés, consecuencia
de su larga estancia en Londres y de su matrimonio con una británica
"Si queremos que el flamenco llegue más lejos tenemos que
enseñarlo en la Universidad, en conservatorios, en escuelas de
música", destacó el malagueño, quien criticó
a los flamencos que no enseñan lo que saben a nadie, "a
veces ni a sus hijos".
Si con la taranta la guitarra de Martín vibró al ritmo
de <http://es.guide.yahoo.com/fa/9562.html> los cantos subterráneos
de los mineros, con la rumba y la guajira se impregnó de los
cálidos sonidos latinoamericanos antes de reclamar concentración
para la ejecución magistral de una soleá.
Pero quizás el ritmo mejor acogido anoche, el más cercano
a la audiencia indonesia, fue la zambra 'De Damasco a Córdoba',
llena de sones moriscos familiares a los que vuelan en las calles de
Yakarta, inundadas con mezquitas que llaman a la oración cinco
veces al día.
"El sonido del muecín es muy parecido al del cante flamenco,
el flamenco tiene raíces árabes innegables", remarca
Martín al recordar su paso por Irán y por Turquía.
"En Estambul podías escuchar no uno, sino hasta diez muecines
a la vez, parecía que armonizasen todos juntos, era algo mágico."
El poder evocador de la música de Martín fue potenciado
por uno de sus maestros, Niño Ricardo, a quien el malagueño
considera su mayor inspiración.
"El Niño Ricardo era un poeta; era un gran creador. Cuando
tocaba por granaína estabas viendo la Alhambra, cuando tocaba
por alegrías estabas, tú, en Cádiz, evocaba siempre
cada palo su sitio de origen." Aunque Martín tiene una compañía
de flamenco que le acompaña en numerosas giras, reconoce que
también le gusta actuar solo porque la música no queda
encubierta por la fuerza visual de la bailaora.
"Me gusta tocar para bailar y cantar, pero es tan visual que nadie
se entera de la música. ¿Con una mujer en el escenario,
quién va a estar pendiente del guitarrista?", bromea.
Sin distracciones visuales y con un dominio absoluto de la guitarra,
Martin sedujo anoche al público indonesio y los más atrevidos
del anfiteatro le acompañaron con palmas, sin importarles estar
totalmente fuera de compás.
"El flamenco es tan grande que los clásicos, los jazzistas
y todos se quedan acojonaos con nosotros", manifestó el
"Un público muy simpático, muy simpático",
añadió el malagueño riéndose poco antes
de abandonar definitivamente la sala. EFE mcg/zm/chs
John L Walters, The Guardian March 19th 2004
double CD Live en Directo is a complete show by his Compania Flamenca:
Dancers El Tigre (Salvador Moreno) and Luisa Chicano, singer Nuria Martin
and second guitarist Chato Velez (Antonio Fernandez Torres). The album's
creative charge lies partly in its purist commitment with extended improvisations
that demonstrate both the music's function as accompaniment for song
and dance and its inspirational nature as solo art music.
this only work when all participants are working at the height of their
powers, and that's the case here. Martín is a fine soloist, but
he also has flair for leadership, evident in the way he added warmth
and direction to the closing sections of the Martins 4 tour last season.
There's no fusion in Martín's disc, but it wouldn't be so moving
without the technological intimacy of clear, clean digital recording.
Juan Martin Flamencovision FV07
By Thérèse Wassily Saba, Classical Guitar Magazine, January
This is one of Juan
Martin’s finest recordings made with flamenco singer Antonio Aparecida.
Aparecida has worked with Juan Martin for many years in larger flamenco
ensembles but this is the first time they have focused on duo work,
and it is very successful. Juan Martin’s guitar playing is so
sensitive and intimate particularly in the introduction to the taranta
Se juegan la Vida (They gamble their lives); this is followed by an
equally moving performance by Antonio Aparecida. The dancers Raquel
de Luna and David Morales provide palmas and plenty of jaleo for the
festive wedding song, the Alboréas called Como dos Luceros (Like
two bright stars).
In the Farruca,
Mi Gloria verte bailer (It is glorious to see you dance), Juan Martin
and Antonio Aparecida are joined again by the dancer David Morales but
this time he does a superb dance. The recording ends with an effervescent
Bulerias, La Mañana verde, la tarde azul (The morning is green,
the afternoon blue) including a third dancer; Salvador Moreno “El
Tigre” whose dancing complements the singing and guitar playing
most expressively and with great skill. Added to that is the buoyant
beat of Chris Karan on Tabla.
Often times in flamenco
we miss out on the words but the beautifully detailed sleeve notes which
accompany this recording give the words in Spanish with their English
translation. I was also pleased with the choice of pieces for recording
which is varied and seems to cover the full emotional gamut which is
quite an achievement for any flamenco singer and Antonio Aparecida is
to be congratulated. I highly recommend this recording.
Alquimista: Juan Martin
By Clive Davis, Sunday Times, March 18th 2001
If flamenco remains
for many an acquired taste, guitarist Juan Martin has done much to dispel
the mystery with albums that combine soft-focus rootsy improvisations.
On El Alquimista, his group takes us on an enchanting journey through
Andalusian soundscapes, culminating in the haunting drones of En el
Palacio del Sultan.
Ham & High Friday February 1999
starry names from differing worlds within today's British guitar scene
performed at the Wigmore last Monday, which was testament to the broadmindedness
and absolute enthusiasm Ivor Mairants had for the guitar. It was, after
all, his memorial concert. Carlos Bonell showed off his wealth of tonal
timbres and mouth-watering nuances in three romantic Preludes by Villa-Lobos;
flamenco guitarist Juan Martin soon whipped things into a passionate
Spanish frenzy and dazzled us with complex cross rhythms and rumbas
to die for; electric jazz guitarist Martin Taylor gently rocked to some
virtuosic rhythm and blues. But it was not all a celebration of the
established high life. As a proprietor of an excellent guitar shop and
founder of the Central School of Dance Music in London, Mairants was
always on the look-out for aspiring young players, and supportive of
new talent. This was properly reflected too.
Cook , a musician in her early 20s and winner of the first (1997)Ivor
Mairants Guitar Awards, presented and endearing if slightly too balmy
interpretation of Mairant's bluesy Evocation for Joe Pass, but her relaxed
approach and clear, sweet tone were engaging. Marginally more established
is the Eden-Stell Duo which gave its concert debut at the South Bank
Centre three years ago and has just released a CD. Eden and Stell's
performance of arrangements of the Allemande and Les Cyclopes from Rameau's
Piéces de Clavecin showed a duo which breathed as one. Their rhythmic
pacings, precise ornamentation and clear direction brought a vitality
to Rameau's French Baroque lines. In Rodriquez' Fandango and Tonadilla
another side revealed as two fiery, more menacing voices emerged. The
evening was appropriately rounded off with In Memoriam Ivor Mairants,a
heartfelt yet ultimately uplifting song written by Ivor's daughter Valerie
and performed rather loudly by the Guildhall Octet.
No Chaser' dated March '99
Juan Martin ARTE
FLAMENCO PURO The celebrated Juan Martin (a.k.a "Doctor Flamenco) is
back with a new set of passionate flamenco pieces guaranteed to grab
you by the seat of your pants and set your hair on fire. This album
is recorded live, each track using no more than two takes in order to
keep the inspiration and intensity at a real level. Making recordings
of flamenco can be difficult,as mechanical repetition of passionate
playing tends to kill it, so capturing the thrill of live performance
has long been a dream of Martin's. The result is very exciting; fingersnaps,handclapping
and footwork all have extreme clarity, and the raw intensity of gypsy
Antonio Aparecida's singing transports the listeners to a bar little
bar in his native Cadiz. Martin's virtuoso guitar-playing is really
something else, both in the quieter moments like the instrumental A
Mi Madre and when he lets rip. My favourite track is 'Lo Mismo Que Un
Loco ('Like a Madman')in which you can hear the beautiful Raquel De
Luna driving them all crazy with her dancing.
Denselow The Guardian Monday June 1st 1998
Juan Martin & Musica
Alhambra Queen Elizabeth Hall Flamenco is back in fashion, and rightly
so. It is, after all, one of the greatest enduring music styles of Europe,
as resilient as the blues,and equally varied in its different forms
and the still-developing fusion that have evolved from it. The acoustic
Spanish band Radio Tariff have shown some of the possibilities,while
even the British Asian club hero, Nitan Sawhney, fuses flamenco with
Indian styles in his current experimental work. All of those would have
made welcome additions to the five concert Arte Flamenco celebration
of the new Spanish musical renaissance, on the South Bank. The opening
artist was Juan Martin, a one-time student of Paco de Lucia, whose mixture
of new composition and historical work is very much in the tradition
of Radio Tarifa.
line-up showed what one should expect. Playing to a packed QEH, he perched
on a stool, cradling his guitar, surrounded by his singer Abdul Saleem
Kheir, playing the ancient Arabic lute, the oud, a percussionist playing
hand drums and the Indian tablas, and flute and clarinet players. The
repertoire veered between the ancient and modern, from Sephardic songs
from the 13th century through to self-composed pieces in which delicate
guitar solos were matched against repeated clarinet phrases. This was
virtuoso playing, for sure, but with a difference. Intensity and emotion
were there, in patches, but Juan Martin's skill was in creating unexpected
textures and colours within the flamenco setting. there were a few wild
guitar flurries but much of the playing was thoughtful,stately and mesmeric.
Moffatt The Irish Times Wednesday September 30 1998
Juan Martin is perhaps an unusual choice for the Dublin Jazz Week; his
music involves improvisation, but certainly isn't Jazz. However nobody
was arguing about definitions after his diverse and entertaining concert
last night. With Musica Alhambra, Martin aims to trace the development
of flamenco through it's various roots, both eastern and western. The
other musicians were Abdul Salaam Kheir (oud and vocals) Chris Karan
(tabla and darabuka), Sarah Murphy(flute) and Kevin Murphy (clarinet).
Martin opened the concert with a stylish flamenco solo, before joining
with Karan and Kheir for From Damascus to Cordoba.
Here and elsewhere,
the oud and guitar worked well together (the oud resembles a lute, but
has low tension strings and sounds distinctly eastern).Martin and Kheir
entered into long exchanges, swapping phrases and motifs. The style
changed markedly for a series of 13th century Jewish melodies. La Rosa
Enfloree worked particularly well, ingeniously blending guitar,flute
and clarinet, the guitar enjoyed a free, improvisational role, while
the other two stuck to the tune. Martins own Atlantis Suite worked well,
as did the dramatic Aires do Cairo. The concert reached its climax with
The Passion of the Lament, a fusion of all manner of styles, driven
forward by dazzling guitar rhythms.
Purser The Scotsman Monday November 1st 1996
The choice of venue
was never going to do the group any favours, Glasgow City Hall offering
as much atmosphere as a school assembly, but an inauspicious start did
lead to the fever and passion expected. Martin opened with a marvellous
solo piece that affirmed his mastery of the guitar, followed by the
whole ensemble - from India, Greece, Spain,Lebanon and Ireland - joining
forces to give the eighth century Moorish Evocacíon. Abdul Salam Kheir
on the mellifluously toned oud(Arab lute) added his rich and mesmerising
voice to the Andalucian When She Began to Sway, evoking images of a
cobra and its prey, while an improvised piece with Indian tabla and
Greek darabuka (drums) alongside guitar gave an idea of gypsy rhythms.
The clarinet featured strongly, but it wasn't until the final two numbers
of the evening, Martin's own La Frontera and The Passion of the Lament
that the technically accomplished Irishman, Kevin Murphy, and to an
extent the rest of the group, became visibly moved and fully committed
to the heat and sensuality of the superb music.