Born in Barcelona in 1962, José Luis Montón made his debut as a concert artist there in 1989 and in his career to date he has recorded an impressive number of albums, many of which incidentally have Flamenco in the title. “Flamenco is very beautiful in itself and I am deeply grateful for the inpsiration it has given me throughout my career and my personal struggle to find myself through music, “ he writes in the liner notes to this new solo record, which was recorded in April 2011.
A Renaisance man of the guitar, Montón’s Flamenco Arabe project saw him work with Egyptian percussionist Hossam Ramzy (whose name will in turn be familiar from his work with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.) Montón has also collaborated with Lebanese classical violinist Ara Malikian.
Listening to this beautiful solo guitar record is akin to the aural equivalent of wandering around the alleys and narrow lanes of the Gothic quarter of Barcelona or the old, haunted Juderias of Sevilla or Córdoba on a sultry summer’s night.
Suffused with longing and soaked in a special kind of lonesomeness, anyone with taste in music will instantly fall for the record's poignant elegance and balm.
The fiery sparking genius of the Andalusian guitarist Tomatíto is not something Montón aspires to. Rather he plays in what at least sounds like a more controlled, traditionally classical style. He has a beautiful gift for melody and plays his own compositions with an assured sense of timing and atmosphere.
You know he has an innate sense for space and for the cathedral vaulting, as it were, the kind of interior shelter you must cloak a piece in to make it grow.
Air is a creative reworking of JS Bach’s Air on a G String, but for the real deal try the opening track Rota (the word translates as Broken), which was the point of arrival for this reviewer, courtesy of The John Kelly Ensemble.
Or if it wasn’t John, then it was those equally impressive guys, Carl and Eamonn, on another RTÉ lyric fm programme The Blue of The Night. All three have given this record some affectionate and well-deserved rotation.