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Review 1 for Of Essence and Time
Miami Dade County Auditorium On.Stage Black Box @
- Miami @
, FL @
- Fri, Apr 5, 2013 @
Favorite moment: The ensemble interchange @
Essence and Time 4/6/13 Superlative restraint. Now that's something we really appreciate in South Florida, right? Friday's concert of Nu Flamenco [hey, this isn't hip-hop, let's spell Nuevo correctly!] at the Dade County Auditorium was indeed superlative, and made so by its intelligent restraint. With compositions by Flamenco guitarist Jose Luis Rodriguez (Spain), Flamenco dance by Niurca Marquez (USA/Cuba), and singing by Susana Behar (Cuba/Venezula), it was definitely Flamenco. Of course Flamenco is a cultural form loaded, often overloaded, with Mediterranean melodrama, and melodrama is something I can always do without, particularly if it's supposed to be music. But the principals never went over the top. Behar delivered the songs, which in Spanish must have revolved around love, longing and exile, freedom and death, etcetera, without weeping all over the place. We got the poignancy without the puddles. Her voice was clear, comfortable and solid ; always in range without any sense of strain. While I am in no way qualified or even capable of saying anything about dance, Niurca Marquez gave us dance not drama. Stern-faced but not tragic, arms articulate but not flailing, the timing of her percussive footwork, particularly on the opening duet with Rodriguez, was perfect, at least to my ears. Now about the Nuevo parts. There was no attempt to force something Nu here. There was the unmistakable base of Flamenco, but the addition of violin virtuoso Federico Britos (Uraguay), percussionist Romulo Bernal (USA/Equador), bassist Renyel Rivero (USA/Cuba) and Reza Filsoofi (Iran) on setar and Middle Eastern percussion made for a music that was entirely historic and natural. Thankfully there was never any kind of forced fusion into something hip and modern. From Spain, through North Africa and the Levant, it all worked together in an integrated music that was an organic expression of the people, the centuries of people, who actually lived, worked, loved and traveled together for thousands of years. You don't create that sound out of nothing, and if you try, it's worthless. Or rather, it's the equivalent of eating a strange 99 cent industrial meat burger versus a complete culinary composition at an old café with friends. I think a lot of the success of this anti-Nu, Nuevo Flamenco has to be credited to the composition of Jose Luis Rodriguez. The massive talents of Britos and Filsoofi seemed intentionally constrained to the compositions, which allowed the deliberate structure of the music to work. If the composition itself were not so well crafted, or if the individual musicians were allowed to run free, the whole thing would have been a mess. As it was, it produced a music that was exactly what its marquis declared, the historical Essence of great and varied peoples and the rhythmic Time of their cultures, together. Which leads me to my one complaint which really isn't a complaint at all. On that stage were some amazing, masterful musicians. Rodriguez on guitar is absolutely world-class. When he plays the notes just fall out of his guitar. The most intricate runs and arpeggios seem to materialize out of sound itself, with no apparent effort on Rodriguez' part; without facial expression, without histrionics of any kind, almost without any movement on his part at all. He does not try to own the notes with gestures. Federico Britos is another master I have had the pleasure of hearing in jazz ensembles or playing Piazzolla tangos; on violin playing that music, no one is better. Those two, with Filsoofi on setar along with percussion and bass had me longing to hear them really work as a musical ensemble themselves, without having to be the platform for the songs, which was the form for the evening. Not a complaint really, but a desire. So let's find a venue for these musicians to work together steadily, where they can let this Nuevo happen; a space where something can grow naturally, without having to be forced by industry into fabricating something Nu and shiny. Miami, you are not Berlin, you are not London. Factories don't suit you. In fact, except for the water and the lack of camels, you're much more like Morocco than Munich.