All hail the new master. America has a new flamenco guitarist of the same caliber as our own Adam del Monte, Chuscales and Miguel Espinoza. This Texan's name is Jason McGuire and his debut album Distancias on Armik's record label is a breakout phenomenon. It combines furious high-level technique, advanced composer craft and a very personal take on the challenges of combining Flamenco Nuevo styles with the authentic gitano soul and compas which usually requires upbringing or least long-term location immersion in the Spanish milieu of Jerez de la Frontera or any of the Hiberian hot spots of the genre.
Co-produced by singer/drummer Jose Manuel Blanco 'El Grillo' of the San Francisco Flamenco group Sol y Luna who sits in on percussion and lends his virile vocals to the scorching colombianas "Lagrimas de Sal", one secret of Jason's unique style is his own accompaniment on bass. Lavishing the same speed and precision he displays on his Montalvo lead guitars on the bass to explore fascinating parallel runs makes for an often dark and earthy timbre and an enhanced sense of rhythmic incision and interest. Adding Chris Kranyak 'El Ungaro' on Jazz violin to the tangos of the title track was yet another very inspired choice.
Distancias spans the rhythmic gamut of rumba, tarantas, alegrias, bulerias and tangos and even adds a very Latin number called "Aires de Mozambique" where two percussionists join hands while "Loisaida" incorporates the intricate machine-gun staccato of dancer Yaelisa's footwork. How a newcomer can burst onto this highly evolved scene with such a mature take on a genre whose modern-day standards have been raised excessively high due to the iconic trailblazing of Paco de Lucia, Vicente Amigo and Gerardo Nunez is the million-dollar question. But it's a clear fact obvious even upon the most cursory listening - Jason McGuire is the real deal. He belongs in the same raw and uncut cadre of Flamenco guitar maestros. With Bernie Grundman on the mastering console, even the recording quality is top-notch. Distancias thus becomes that very rare discovery of a prodigy who pops up unannounced out of apparently nowhere and on foreign soil. I'm convinced his Spanish peers will immediately welcome Jason McGuire as one of their own, like a Tibetan tulku who manifests in a Western body in the Americas to travel the distancias and become a bridge between two worlds. Ole los que saben!