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Eduardo Niebla Duo (Flamenco Jazz Guitarist)
Venue: The Castle Theatre, Wellingborough
Thursday 10th February 2011
Flamenco guitar is not a traditional instrument in the menu of the modern jazz genre. It is most often, rather irritatingly, associated with the Tapas bars of Spanish holiday resorts where it can be heard as ‘dumbed-down’ background competition for the chit-chat of tourists.
For audiences unaccustomed to listening intently to Flamenco guitar for a concentrated period of two hours or so, this might have proved a challenge too far. As it was, the audience’s attention was rapt from start to finish, many no doubt mentally conveyed to the far flung countries where this type of guitar music is embedded in the culture.
In the right hands, it is an exquisitely evocative instrument, capable of conveying great levels of emotion. For this gig, Eduardo Niebla bravely appeared as a soloist, with primarily rhythmic accompaniment from a fellow Flamenco guitarist, Ricardo Garcia.
Niebla’s expertise, particularly his capacity for striking great contrasts, was evident from the outset. His ability to pluck the strings (without the need for a plectrum) enabled his fingernails to strum many strings simultaneously, so broadening the range, emphasis and impact of the sounds he was intent on achieving.
Add to this, his consummate ability to introduce bright and cheery poly-rhythms to support his creative and inventive improvisations on the theme, and the jazz model was complete - even if a slight flavour of jazz fusion was evident.
Many of the offerings were from Niebla’s latest CD, My Gypsy Waltz, which is likely to prove a popular and satisfying listen to those interested in this form of jazz. Striking differences of tone and texture surfaced as he strode through the short and punchy Rosie, and the ebullient, India, and then, later glided gracefully into the outstanding ballad of the evening, Para Margarita, a tribute to his mother. His styles veer from straight-ahead jazz to the unashamed simple rumba, and the extent and range of his offerings are a tribute to his skill and inventiveness as a composer.
For the past nine years or so, Niebla has lived in Yorkshire. Fans of jazz guitar should seize any opportunity to hear him.