Songlines Review July 2019 edition:
Songlines Review August/September 2015 edition:
Fantastic new ‘Top of the World’ review of “la Guitarra – Mi Vida” in the magazine Songlines, August/September 2015 edition now available. The magazine also has the track ‘La Feria’ from the album on the covermounted disc.
Link to review in the Sydney Herald, July 2015 of Juan Martín’s rereleased first album: The Early Years:
“…A guest appearance by Juan Martín in four of his own works. He drew in the audience with the intimacy of his playing, as well as dazzling us with his bravura.”
Review of Essential Flamenco Guitar Volume One in the Classical Guitar Spring Edition:
JUAN MARTÍN FLAMENCO GUITAR COURSE – RONDA 2012
Review on the La voz de Ronda website (in Spanish)
Therese Wassily Saba
Classical Guitar Magazine, May 2013
Purcell Room, London, May 24th 2013
This performance by flamenco guitarist Juan Martín and his ‘Música Alhambra’ ensemble came at the end of his recent UK tour. The Música Alhambra ensemble includes Juan Martín on flamenco guitar, Paul Fawcus on flute and clarinet, Chris Karan on percussion and two Arabic musicians: Abdul Salam Kheir, who sang and played the Arabic lute, and Louai Alhenawi who played a bamboo flute called the ‘ney’ as well as an Arabic tambourine and drum.
The concert began with Juan Martín playing solo – a piece in the flamenco form of tarantas, which unfortunately suffered a little from poor tuning. In London, we have been having unusually cold weather during Spring/Summer. The guitar had arrived in this very cold weather and was not adjusting to the temperature change under the heat of the stage lights. For the second piece, Juan Martín was joined by Louai Alhenawi playing the ney. Louai Alhenawi is a Syrian musician and had a range of different neys on stage, each a different length. They played a piece called Levante, which creates an atmosphere of serenity and the imaginary pleasantness of hot, dry winds.
The programme was well contrasted and full of appealing music. For each piece there was a different combination of musicians and sometimes the full ensemble performed. Abdul Salam Kheri sang some Muwashahat, and played on the Arabic lute, accompanied by the full ensemble. They performed two Muwashahat: Zarani el Mahboub and Lamma Bada Yatathanna. From a similar period in Spanish history, came two Sephardi songs, La rosa enflorece and Ven querida ven amada, beautifully performed by Juan Martín with Paul Fawcus on clarinet: I would have been happy to hear these three times over.
They also performed pieces from Juan Martín’s Música Alhambra recording, such as Evocación from Damascus to Cordoba and dedicated this piece to the people of Syria. In the final piece, La Pasión del Lamento, which was also from the Musica Alhambra recording, Abdul Salam Kheir sang in a traditional improvised Arabic style, singing only the words ‘Ya Leel’. This fitted in very well with the flamenco bias of the piece. It was a long concert and even though Juan Martín’s guitar never really settled, it was full of excellent music.
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.
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.
Juan Martín Ensemble
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Review by Graham Wade in Classical Guitar Magazine
Summer 2009 (click here)
Juan Martín Ensemble
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Review by Neil Sowerby in Manchester Evening News
4 February 2009
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 it all.
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 artistic people.’’
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 true artist.
Blood Wedding, Playhouse, Liverpool
Reviews of Oxford Playhouse Concert
Rumbas Originales reviewed by Steve Caseman, Rock n Reel World, March 2007
A 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 himself.
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.
Maria 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 en Yakarta.
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 emotiva taranta.
“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 contenida.
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 “extraordinaria”.
“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 músico.
“Un público muy simpático, muy simpático”, añadió el malagueño riéndose poco antes de abandonar definitivamente la sala. EFE mcg/zm/chs
By Erik Neuteboom, Prog Archives
4th August 2006
Juan 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!!
By John L Walters, The Guardian March 19th 2004
Juan Martín’s 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.
Recordings like 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.
By Thérèse Wassily Saba, Classical Guitar Magazine, January 2004
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.
Concert in Bergen
April 2004 click here
Live en Directo
By 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.
Jessica Nicholas, The Age, Melbourne, Australia, December 2003
Melbourne 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 out parallels.
Like 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.
When 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.
At 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).
Pieces 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.
By Lea Wee, The Straits Times, Singapore, November 30th 2002
Juan 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.
There 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.
The 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.
By 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 to shine.
By David Hutcheon, The Times, November 2001
Hailing from Cadiz in Southern Spain, a city of revolutionary politics, fiery fiestas and heavenly tapas, Martín was always likely to forge an individual path. By turning his back on the traditional flamenco repertoire, he has found a new audience for his distinctive sound. Martín, who studied under Paco de Lucía, the undisputed master of the flamenco guitar has delved deep into the roots of flamenco, searching the mountains of Andalucía for fragments of the music’s history in the towns in which medieval refugees hid from anti-heathen (gypsy, Jew or Moor) legislation.
From this 15th century base the music is free to choose its contemporary partners: 13th century Sephardic (Mediterranean Jewish) melodies are a speciality, while the oud (Arabic lute, played by the Lebanese singer Abdul Salam Khier, comes to the fore in the haunting De Damasco a Cordoba. Having such a virtuoso band, rather than just someone clapping their hands, the guitarist is free to improvise. A single tune can sum up the westward travels of the gypsies and Semitic people, even if the audience thinks it is a simple love song.
At the centre is Martín, who knows the value of restraint, even when unleashing the sort of frenzied intensity synonymous with the very best flamenco guitarists.
El 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.
From Ham & High Friday February 1999
Three 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.
Amanda 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.
From ‘Straight 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.
By Robin 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.
His instrumental 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.
by Alex Moffatt The Irish Times Wednesday September 30 1998
Flamenco guitarist 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 m
by Sean 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.