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Sensuous Sensibility

By Glenn Weiser

Maria Zemantauski

Under the Lemon Tree (Futon Dog Music)

Gypsies of Spain’s Andalusia pro vince first spread the florid songs, dances, and improvised guitar accompaniment of flamenco throughout the rest of the country. And since it became the rage of Spanish coffeehouses in the mid-19th century, flamenco has also traveled a stylistic route leading from traditional forms to a freer, more open style known as nuevo (new) flamenco, and influenced both classical music and jazz along the way.

Maria Zemantauski’s fine new CD, Under the Lemon Tree, spans the spectrum of flamenco guitar’s evolution. The 11 tracks here include a pair of celebrated Spanish works, a hymn arrangement, and eight of her own captivating compositions. These last range from classic flamenco to more nuevo-sounding pieces flecked with borrowings from jazz, Celtic, and Appalachian string-band music. Guesting on the disc are Tony Dumas on cajon, Angelina Glashenkova-Reed on domra, and Martha Gallagher on Celtic harp.

The first track, “Rumores de la Caleta,” is Zemantauski’s showpiece arrangement of a 1887 piano piece by Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz, and, with its stentorian strumming, rapid-fire bass runs, and dreamy interludes, should convince you she is an outstanding guitarist. Other highlights include “River Street,” which starts off as a reflective air and then lunges into a blazing impression a Southern fiddle breakdown. “Chanteuse” is a duet with Celtic harp in which the two instruments blend seamlessly, recalling in places the minimalism of Terry Riley. More traditional are the solos “Sundina’s Dance,” an alegrias, and the title track, a rumba. In “Recuerdos de la Alhambra,” Zemantauski breaks up Francisco Tarrega’s famous tremolo study for solo guitar into a serene duet with the domra, a Russian mandolin-like instrument. A heartfelt arrangement of “Amazing Grace” concludes the record.

I only wish Zemantauski had included liner notes for the pieces, but that is a mere quibble. Put your inquiring mind on hold and let your ears drink in her rich, sensuous music.

Arctic Monkeys

Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (Domino)

Dirty Pretty Things

Waterloo to Anywhere (Interscope/Vertigo)

This year’s Best Bands Ever, ac cording to the British music press, come off like two better-put-together versions of the Libertines on their debut discs. (Actually, Dirty Pretty Things are the Libertines, but without the liability of Pete “Cokey” Doherty.) That’s all fine and good, but they’re still not the Undertones. You’ll return these for store credit in six weeks.

—John Brodeur



Various Artists

Imaginational Anthem Volume 2 (Tompkins Square)

Barely half a year after the first volume, the Tompkins Square people are making it clear that they’re here to document, among other things, a wealth of acoustic-guitar explorations. Among the dozen tracks are pieces by newly emerging players (including James Blackshaw, Sean Smith, Sharron Kraus, and Jack Rose) and a rare live recording by the legendary Robbie Basho, who died in 1986. There are also new recordings of works by other guitarists who originally were on John Fahey’s Takoma label during the first flowering of this genre- straddling music: Peter Lang and Billy Faier, and a 1975 home recording by Fred Gerlach (whose playing Jimmy Page has cited as an influence). Though styles of playing vary, the solo setting links them all into a cohesive whole, making for more than a collection of tracks, but a bona fide full-album experience.

—David Greenberger


Il Demonio Nera (Evillive)

I just looked this up at Borders and I see that this insipid DVD retails for $19.99! If anyone—and I mean anyone, including ol’ Glenn’s immediate family out of sheer pity—pays that much for this hogwash, they need a whipping. Filler, filler, filler, filler. Let’s see, what have we here? Oh! More filler! And hey, here’s some more filler over here! No less than three versions of the awful “I Don’t Mind the Pain.” Two each for almost all the rest. Twelve horrible videos for six really bland, self-important songs. On the other hand, this may be eligible for some type of award. Perhaps the coveted “Most Blatant Filler DVD Released to Pay Health Care Premiums Incurred by a Curious Inability to Think I Mattered at Any Point in Time After 1990 Chalice of Woe.” In the name of Lowrick, Prince of Elves, demon be gone!

—Bill Ketzer


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