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Akin to the two Jazzpaña albums on the German ACT Music + Vision label that combined flamenco players Gerardo Núñez/guitar and Chano Dominguez/piano with Fareed Haque on e-guitar, Perico Sambeat and Michael Brecker on saxes plus various other special guests [ACT 9284-2] -- or, in the first installment, Al di Meloa, Steve Khan and Juan- Manuel Cañizares with Michael Brecker, Jorge Pardo, Carles Benavent and Peter Erskine [ACT 9212-2] --, the Jazz Viene Del Sur programme of Seville's Teatro Central heard on Cruce de Caminos | Crossroads and Pasajes | Passages is boundary-pushing music. It combines key figures of Flamenco and Jazz in live performances sponsored by the Andalusian government's Culture Board.

For Passages, this means Perico Sambeat and Julian Argüelles on soprano, alto and tenor saxophones; Jeanne Lee and Esperanza Fernández on vocals; Gerardo Núñez and Fareed Haque on guitars; Paolo Fresu on trumpet; Manuel Soler on percussion and the dance floor; Javier Colina on double bass; George Colligan on piano; and Marc Miralta on drums. Held at the conclusion of Seville's 2nd Seminar on Jazz & Flamenco between the eleven participating professors plus special guest Fernández on flamenco voice, the complex material incorporates a wild mix of influences often dating back to previous fusion encounters. Perico Sambeat's "A-free-k" can be heard on his Ademuz album with Mark Turner, Brad Mehldau and Enrique Morente. "Skull View" relates to a 1996 British Avantgarde Jazz album. "Evidence" is a Thelonious Monk tune turned bulerias while "Fellini" is a contribution by trumpeter Paolo Fresu played in Argentinean tango style.

The fiery zapateado foot work of dancer Manuel Soler coexists side-by-side with Fareed Haque's distorted guitar washes. Colligan's American Jazz piano trades beats with Sambeat's soprano sax imitating Flamenco falsetas and Esperanza's scorching Cante Jondo. Experimental in concept but perfectly hip in execution, Passages is testament to joyous musicianship at the edge of inventiveness. It's charged with the vitality of a life performance and the very temporariness of the situation. These musicians met in a workshop environment, practiced together for a few long days, enriched one another in the process and then got on stage to present the results. It's out-there in an excellent way that proves how despite the robotic monopoly of a few corporations ruling the airwaves, the cauldron of musical magic continues to be churned - if one is lucky enough to know where to look.

For Crossroads, the tenuous Jazz/Flamenco balance which Passages tips in favor of the former is weighted towards Flamenco. The brilliant Turkish percussionist Arto Tunçboyaciyan who appears on Núñez's Calima recording joins the guitarist with Sambeat/sax, Colligan/piano, Fernandez/vocals, Colina/bass and Miralta/drums. Once again, Thelonious Monk unknowingly provides a tune, here "In walked Bud" which Miralta had already arranged for his New York Flamenco Reunion quartet. The opener "De aquí p'allá" is a high-speed Latin Jazz number with incredible percussive fireworks going off between the two master drummers. They frame the ensemble between pulsating blankets of transient patterns. "Alto y solitario nido" opens with Arto riffing free-style in a vocalized muezzin solo straight out of the Sahara before Gerardo's guitar turns things into a scorching Flamenco number. It spins out into a moody vocal/sax interlude, then becomes full-on tweeter-melting vocal wailing.

"Siguiriya" is a jumping board for Esperanza Fernández' intense vocals while "Calima" presents an alternate take on material developed for Núñez' eponymous recording with Jazz pianist Danilo Perez. "No hay olvido" could appear on a Pat Metheny or Simon Shaheen outing, so universal is its harmonic syntax. The closer "El misterio esta en el aire" once again mixes Flamenco compas with the Jazz idiom while Esperanza's voice sounds Flamenco but doesn't act it in how the melody progresses, never mind the free-wheeling sax solos that are nothing but Free Jazz improv. The transitions between these open interludes and structured thematic passages are particularly brilliant.

For Andando el Tiempo under his own flag, Gerardo Núñez' works with Cepillo on percussion, Perico Sambeat on saxophones, Mariano Diaz on piano and Paolo Fresu on trumpet. A whole slew of additional musicians fill out the compositions as required to fashion either an overall Latin Jazz feel with Flamenco motifs or the reverse. This constant shifting of clear-cut stylistic boundaries is what makes Núñez one of the most avantgarde and also technically most astounding guitarists alive. Like the gypsy guitarist Tomatito, he pushes the non-traditional envelope and seems to thrive out there on the edge where advanced modal Flamenco and muted trumpet fusion Jazz collide and intermingle.

Andando el Tiempo continues in the vein previously explored on Calima and Flamencos En Nuevo York but also becomes a seamless triptych with today's other two recordings. Even its solo guitar numbers like "Yerma" push the harmonic structure like abstract art, infusing surprisingly consonant twists into expected progressions. Anyone interested in this technically challenging corner of cutting-edge fusion guitar music must put today's three albums on the must-buy list both for their musical enjoyment and as ongoing testament for how this sector continues to evolve.