Sunday, June 12, 2016

Midnight Rhumba, by Johannes Linstead

The latest release from Johannes Linstead is far from your typical Spanish flamenco guitar album.

Rather, it is a hearty and robust collection that varies between full-bodied, invigorating rhythms and beautiful romantic ballads, with some interesting curveballs thrown into the mix for good measure.

While Linstead manages quite a lot of different styles on his instrument, his exquisite lead phrasing shines on many of the tunes. In addition to guitars, Linstead also plays bass, djembe, keyboards, palmas, percussion, piano, udu, and ukulele.

The presence of violin and viola on several tracks gives them the feel somewhat of ethnic Jewish folk music. Nowhere is this more evident than on “Balzac’s Brew,” which sounds kind of like what I would call Yiddish ragtime.

Linstead's compositions and stellar playing receive support from the talents of Jordan Abraham on accordion and piano, Anastasios Bigas on bongos, congas, and drums, George Crotty on cello, Geoff Hlibka on acoustic guitar, Irina Koroleva on viola, Vasyl Popadiuk on violin, and Max Alejandro Ventura on bongos and cajon.

Anyone who enjoys guitar music will delight in the sonic joys of this record.

--Raj Manoharan

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