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Album Review

As the 20th century was coming to a close, younger and older Spanish listeners continued to debate the merits of traditional versus modern flamenco. To the purists, flamenco was a time-honored tradition you didn't mess with by adding pop, salsa, jazz or rock elements. But for the huge audience that nuevo flamenco had enjoyed since the 1970s, the way to keep flamenco healthy and fresh was by forging ahead and experimenting. Gerardo Nunez is an example of a flamenco guitarist who was comfortable in both worlds — he could please purists by playing straight-ahead, traditional flamenco, but he wasn't a purist himself and didn't shy away from nuevo flamenco. Jucal, in fact, was hardly recorded with purists in mind — this largely instrumental CD finds him offering a jazz-influenced take on flamenco that emphasizes improvisation. Those who have savored the more Latin-influenced efforts of Pat Metheny and Al DiMeola will appreciate hearing Nunez stretch out on introspective pieces like "Remache," "Piedras Negras" and "Luna de Cristal." Although Jucal is neither hardcore jazz nor jazz-fusion — it's flamenco with jazz overtones — Nunez does a lot of stretching on this project. Purists won't get into Jucal, but those who realize that flamenco doesn't have to take a by-the-book approach will find the album to be quite absorbing.

Jucal, Gerardo Nunez
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